Dept. of Justice Funding Luaus, Carnivals, and Film Festivals?

A new oversight report released yesterday by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) exposes millions of dollars in Department of Justice (DOJ) funds are being spent on parties.

The review of recent activities sponsored by DOJ grantees identified luaus, a Mardi Gras party, block parties, a film festival, a carnival, skateboarding, dancing, fashion shows, and even a doughnut eating contest among the recreational activities made possible with federal crime prevention funding.

“With our nation facing the heightened threats of domestic terrorism and unprecedented debt and financial challenges, taxpayers should be shocked to learn DOJ crime prevention grant programs are paying for parties and rollercoaster rides for children rather than focusing on investigating crimes, locating and prosecuting terrorists, and administering justice,” Coburn said.

Coburn’s scathing, 42-page report entitled “Party at the DOJ” comes amid new Government Accountability Office (GAO) findings that DOJ does not track amounts spent on recreational activities nor does it assess impact outcomes of these expenditures.

“With America facing the threat of domestic terrorism and a $13 trillion debt, the Department of Justice parties on the taxpayers’ dime,” the new oversight report states.

From the Executive Summary:

Americans woke up to news of a car bomb in New York‘s Times Square and a national debt surpassing $13 trillion in May.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was preparing for a “Fun Day” celebration in Texas, a luau in Tennessee, and other parties and fun activities across the country.

With our nation facing the heightened threats of domestic terrorism and unprecedented debt and financial challenges, taxpayers should be shocked to learn DOJ crime prevention grant programs are paying for parties and rollercoaster rides for children rather than focusing on investigating crimes, locating and prosecuting terrorists, and administering justice.

This report, “Party at the DOJ,” examines a number of recent recreational activities funded by DOJ and a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) review that found DOJ does not track the amount spent on recreational activities or the outcomes associated with those activities. The report also makes recommendations to help DOJ better adhere to its mission and protect taxpayers‘ funds from misuse.

Craft-making, bowling, and trips to water parks were among the activities GAO identified as being paid for by DOJ. The Department‘s own manual for grantees even recommends spending federal crime prevention funds on parties and trips. A review of recent activities sponsored by DOJ grantees identified luaus, a Mardi Gras party, block parties, a film festival, a carnival, skateboarding, dancing, fashion shows, and even a doughnut eating contest as among the recreational activities made possible with federal crime prevention funding.

The Legal Times is reporting testimony from a DOJ Office of Justice Programs representative in April revealed that office awarded $5.6 billion in community organizing grants last year alone.

“While many of these programs may be fun or even educational, there is little data to demonstrate how these types of initiatives advance the mission of DOJ,” Coburn said. 

The DOJ mission is “to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

You can read Coburn’s entire, shocking report at the link.


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