The Guardian — Pentagon officials permitted their subordinates to use government charge cards to ring up nearly $100,000 in expenses at strip clubs and “adult entertainment establishments” and almost $1m at casinos, all without serious reprisal, a new report reveals.
Even after the US defense department’s official watchdog lambasted the expenses for adult entertainment and gambling, senior officials did not take “appropriate” disciplinary action, according to a report by the department’s inspector general released on Tuesday.
An audit of 30 government charge-card holders determined that defense department officials neither adequately reviewed travel vouchers for reimbursement nor took action to “eliminate additional misuse”. In fact, most of those audited – 22 out of the 29 who retained their travel vouchers – received “overpayments” on their requested reimbursements at the casinos or adult-entertainment centers, totaling $8,544.
Government charge cards are supposed to be used for expenses incurred for official government business, particularly during official travel. Beyond the embarrassment of Pentagon officials getting away with using their charge cards in the clubs and casinos, the inspector general found that Pentagon management “did not consider the security implications of improper personal use of the travel card”, the report found.
The inspector general found the Pentagon experienced “potential national security vulnerabilities” by supervisors’ late or insufficient notification of the improper expenses.
The inspector general first discovered the casino and adult entertainment expenses on official government travel cards in 2015, and conducted the new inquiry to determine how superiors held those incurring the costs accountable.
That earlier inquiry found defense department personnel charging the government for 900 “adult entertainment transactions” amounting to $96,576; and 4,437 casino transactions totaling $952,258.
An army lieutenant colonel with 10 “high-risk casino transactions” did not inform his commanders of the expenses, despite assuring the inspector general the previous year that he would. An air force lieutenant colonel who was “verbally counseled” and encouraged to seek help for a gambling problem was still permitted to use a government travel card with a $1,000 ATM withdrawal limit, substantially larger than the standard $665 cutoff. A sergeant first class was able to keep using his official travel card even after he left the army. Click here for more: www.theguardian.com