IRS scandal touches on Southern California artist Erik Wahl

The widening scandal engulfing the Internal Revenue Service has turned into a major headache for the Obama administration. Among the many names the scandal has drawn into its orbit is a Southern California artist who works as a motivational speaker.


San Diego artist Erik Wahl reportedly was paid $17,000 by the IRS to perform at a 2010 employee convention in Anaheim, according to the Bloomberg news service. The convention has drawn a considerable amount of scrutiny in recent days for its perceived extravagance and a price tag reportedly close to $4 million.

Wahl hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing. Rather, the IRS has been criticized for spending lavishly on these employee conventions while also targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

Wahl is reported to have painted portraits of basketball star Michael Jordan and U2 frontman Bono as part of his motivational session titled "The Art of Vision" in 2010.

On his official website, Wahl is described as "an internationally recognized graffiti artist, author and entrepreneur." The site lists the IRS as one of his many clients for his motivational speaking services.

"Erik's on-stage painting seamlessly becomes a visual metaphor to the core of his message, encouraging organizations toward profitability through innovations and superior levels of performance," the website states.

A YouTube video shows Wahl at one of his painting-speaking sessions in which he creates a portrait of Bono. The artist recently published a self-help book titled "Unthink," which advises readers on how to take advantage of their creativity to solve problems.

The Times reported this week the IRS has suspended two employees for accepting free items during the Anaheim conference in 2010.