Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on Tuesday blasted the Department of Justice for its excessive waste of taxpayer dollars.
In an opinion piece in Politico
, Goodlatte, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also took Attorney General Eric holder to task for warning the public ahead of the March 1 sequester deadline that the DOJ would be “forced to make cuts that would threaten the safety of all Americans” by diminishing its ability to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Goodlatte writes that a closer look at DOJ spending patterns by the Judiciary Committee “reveals many areas of wasteful spending, suggesting that these ominous threats are part of a scare-tactic narrative to promote the Obama administration’s political agenda.”
The real story, he asserts, is that “our government throws away taxpayer dollars on nonessential items every day.”
Among the examples Goodlatte cites is the DOJ’s purchase last year of an unused prison in Illinois. The department spent $165 million to buy the facility, he says, “even though the Bureau of Prisons already had four brand-new federal prisons sitting empty and waiting to be put to use.”
The DOJ also spends $1.5 million a year to operate the FBI’s Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, which is dedicated to helping Hollywood make movies and TV shows, “including ‘The Kingdom,’ ‘Fast and Furious 4’ and ‘CSI,’” Goodlatte claims.
In addition, he says, DOJ staff uses public funds to host costly conferences around the country. In 2010 alone, it apparently spent nearly $100 million on these conferences, twice what it spent in 2008, which “includes more than $600,000 in event-planner costs for five conferences, even though the need for this was not shown,” charges Goodlatte, adding “The food at these conferences was also exorbitant. “ Coffee, for instance, reportedly cost as much as $12.36 for a 12-ounce cup.
DOJ officials also spend millions of tax dollars on personal travel, maintains Goodlatte.
“According to the Government Accountability Office,” he writes, “both the attorney general and FBI director spent more than $11 million on luxury private jets for non-mission trips from 2007 through 2011.” Holder apparently took more than 28 percent of the flights for personal reasons.
As for DOJ grants to state and local entities, says Goodlatte, they “have also proved to be wasteful.” He points to an audit of grants given to Hartford, Conn. by the Office of the Inspector General, which found the “Hartford Police Department used $10,000 of its grand funding for a pizza party and plaques. Although the Judiciary Committee has asked for an explanation, Goodlatte continues, “This request has gone unanswered.”
Finally, he says, a GAO report from July 2012 “found that there is a huge amount of duplication and overlap in grants awarded by DOJ,” including 56 programs that provide funds to victim assistance and research, 41 that provide technology for forensics and 33 that provide money for juvenile justice.
And these are “just some of the many examples of inefficient and redundant spending at the DOJ,” Goodlatte points out, adding that with the release of President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget on Wednesday, the “House Judiciary Committee will continue to look for ways to reduce wasteful spending in the DOJ.”
“With our national debt more than $16 trillion, we simply cannot afford to drink $12 coffees and help Hollywood make movies,” concludes Goodlatte. “It’s essential that our nation get its fiscal house in order.”
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