Big Government wastes charity, as well as taxpayer money

Here’s a bit of news to reinforce my point that the VA scandal, far from being an outrageous aberration, is entirely typical and symptomatic of brainless, wasteful Big Government:

Federal employees and a contractor diverted more than $1 million of charitable contributions to spending on themselves for in-office massages, meals at every meeting and other luxuries and unnecessary expenses, a government audit found.

They called themselves “volunteers” and said they needed “motivation” to help the less fortunate, even though some 41 federal workers were being paid full-time salaries to administer just one local chapter of the government’s annual workplace charity drive, the Combined Federal Campaign.

They arrived a day early and stayed a day late for annual training conferences in New Orleans and Las Vegas, and paid for room service and pay-per-view movies with donated funds. Then, they adamantly defended their right to do so when questioned by auditors.

That’s from the Washington Examinerwhich goes on to explain how wasting charitable donations is even easier than wasting millions looted from taxpayers by force:

They claimed that restrictions on spending for things like first-class flights didn’t apply to donated funds because taxpayer money was not involved.

The whole time they were working on the CFC full-time, these “loaned executives” received full government salaries, and were able to ignore the work they were originally hired by agencies to do.

Nice.  There’s a special kind of magic that happens when money-no-object government gets together with its very special partners in the private sector – in this case, a Virginia-based nonprofit called Global Impact:

Global Impact occupies custom-built office space with wall-to-wall views of the Potomac River. On those walls are pictures of starving children in Africa juxtaposed against elaborate conference rooms and amenities like a gourmet kitchen. Global Impact has assets of more than $20 million, according to its latest tax return.

The same nonprofit also has the contract for another large CFC campaign, which covers members of the U.S. military on overseas deployments.

In 2012, the year a scathing audit by OPM’s inspector general of Global Impact’s work on the D.C.-area contract was published, the nonprofit paid its then-top executive, Renee Acosta, nearly a half-million dollars.

According to the audit, 132 staffers ran that charity drive, including 41 “loaned executives” who collected federal salaries but worked out of the nonprofit’s offices.

The audit “identified $764,069 in expenses that could have been put to better use for the campaigns,” including a private box at the stadium where the Washington Nationals play, “jazz band costs at a leadership conference,” a Mardi Gras tour, and a “Washington by Night Tour for the Loaned Executives.”

The audit also reported that Global Impact “was reimbursed for unreasonable, unallowable, or unsupported expenses” totaling nearly $300,000.

Those consisted of a torrent of petty offenses, including expensing personal dry cleaning bills, gift shop purchases, travel to an awards banquet unrelated to the CFC, and an $80 flower gift to an employee.

When our corrupt government comes crashing down, we can list “a torrent of petty expenses” as one cause of death.

Many aspects of this story should be drearily familiar to those who remember previous scandals about outrageous wasteful spending at the General Services Administration, the IRS, the EPA, on and on and on.  There were leisurely trips to conferences held at vacation hot spots, hefty room-service tabs, and even neck massages to relieve stress on executives.  Expensive appreciation lunches were followed by award dinners.  Charity money was gobbled up by regal living, ridiculous expenses, fat salaries, and huge bonuses.  The Examiner even mentions a 2010 Secret Service investigation of one Global Impact employee for stealing the identities of donors and selling them to a “Detroit-based violent crime ring,” which somehow ended without any criminal charges being brought.

Naturally, everyone involved says all of this wasteful spending was entirely proper… which is the problem.  It’s just one more example of a pampered bureaucratic aristocracy and its favorite courtiers living it up, while private-sector Americans struggle to make ends meet.  Vows to clean up “waste, fraud, and abuse” are hardy political perennials… but nothing ever really changes.  A great deal of money either solicited or appropriated for noble-sounding causes always ends up in the pockets of the well-connected.  We’ve heard stories like this for years, and we’ll hear plenty more in the years to come, until the American people understand: there are no large, clean governments.