$1 Million For Strippers And Gambling Was Charged On DOD Credit Cards In Spite Of GOP ‘Reforms’

Looks like military personnel have been having a good old-time on government-issued credit cards, to the tune of over $1 million in one year. Adult entertainment establishments and casinos have been the beneficiaries of the largesse — $952,000 for casinos, $96,000 for strip clubs.

The Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DOD) conducted an audit of travel expenses charged to government-issued credit cards between July 2013 and June 2014. The audit uncovered previously undetected charges at the two types of establishments that were likely personal expenses — since, presumably, watching strippers and gambling aren’t supposed to be taxpayer-supported activities.

The Air Force got more than their fair share of the good times, spending $442, 166, or 42 percent of the total.  The Army ran a close second, at $383,375 — but if this were a contest, the other branches of the military aren’t even in the game. The Navy came in at $125,084 and the Marine Corps at $71,763. Other defense employees didn’t hold a candle to the military, running up a mere $26,446.

The newly-released report recommended that the DOD identify merchants that were high risks for personal use — like casinos and strip clubs — and prohibit charges from these merchants on government-issued cards. While that would seem a logical way to prevent abuse of taxpayer dollars, the proposal offended American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman. He fired off a letter to DOD Inspector General Jon T. Rymer that said:

A policy that prohibits the use of government credit cards at casinos would reflect a gross misunderstanding of casinos, which consist of much more than the gaming floor itself, and would ignore the many legitimate business-related expenses incurred at gaming facilities.

Because, of course, all those other services aren’t meant to entice customers into gambling.

Payment of such charges is, of course, the responsibility of the DOD personnel who incurred them — if they are detected. This particular report covers only a sliver of the expenses for which government employees use official credit cards. According to Politico, such prohibited charges may cost taxpayers “hundreds of millions of dollars” each year.

A 2012 law sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act, was meant to put an end to the abuses. Obviously, they continue. In a statement released before the report was made public, Grassley said:

What I hope is that my reforms that became law have been implemented well and that agencies and auditors are using the reforms to catch problems.

The $1,000,000 that was misspent on charge cards, however, doesn’t even amount to a blip on the screen of total financial abuses at the DOD. While the GOP continues to salivate over slashing human services programs in favor of massively increasing the defense budget, The Fiscal Times — no friend to liberal causes — reports other unfathomable abuses at the department. The publication claims that, since 1996, $8.5 trillion of taxpayer money has remained unaccounted for by the DOD. You read that right: $8.5 trillion.

So Grassley’s reforms are like spitting in the ocean. Taxpayers can be outraged at the thought that they may be paying for strippers and gambling — and rightfully so — but that’s an amusing distraction from a true horror story. Out-of-control spending by the Department of Defense is the norm. We taxpayers may never know the true extent of it.

Feature photo adapted from Wikipedia. [source 1, source 2]