A year after finding that military personnel were using government credit cards at places such as Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, the Pentagon’s Inspector General said this week that safeguards still haven’t been put in place to protect taxpayer dollars from being used for unauthorized expenses.
The IG office found last year that from July 2013 to June 2014, Pentagon personnel spent an unauthorized $952,258 at casinos. They dropped another $96,576 at places like Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, which advertises itself as the world’s largest strip club, “featuring 70,000 square feet of topless entertainment.”
At the time, the IG warned that beyond the abuse of taxpayer dollars, the use of the travel credit cards for personal expenses in gambling houses and strip bars created potential national security vulnerabilities — blackmail is a risk if military personnel take part in sexual impropriety or incur major debt.
Government travel card use is intended for official travel expenses only. The IG recommended steps to prevent abuse of the cards in casinos and strip bars in 2015. This week, it said, the Pentagon hadn’t taken those steps and the travel card program remains “vulnerable to continued misuse.”
The IG also found that:
• The Pentagon management failed to perform reviews & responded inconsistently to cardholders improper charges.
• The Pentagon had less money for legitimate travel expenses as a result.
• Cardholders weren’t offered assistance for financial concerns or gambling addictions.
The Defense Department, the IG said, “experienced potential national security vulnerabilities” because it hasn’t dealt adequately with cardholders who may pose security concerns, “including extensive travel card misuse, questionable judgment, the decision not to follow rules and guidance, financial concerns, or gambling addictions,” the report said.