Pentagon credit cards continue to be used at strip joints

Pentagon officials did not reprimand personnel, pull security clearances, or change policies after it  was discovered that employees spent more than $1 million of government money at casinos and strip clubs, according to Department of Defense’s Inspector General.

The IG’s 2015 report revealed the million-dollar spending spree, which jeopardized national security and left the DOD open to further abuse.

The Inspector General’s report makes clear that the Department of Defense has failed to take serious action to curb egregious abuse of government travel cards and hold those responsible accountable,” U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

McCain requested the IG follow up on his previous report and focused on 30 Pentagon cardholders, who visited a casino or strip, and later revealed the following:

  • DOD management took no steps to eliminate further travel card abuse, such as revoke card privileges for people who misused them.
  • DOD commanders only reported two of the 30 cardholders to the Consolidated Adjudications Facility for a security clearance review, as DOD policy requires when personnel behave inappropriately.
  • DOD management didn’t review travel vouchers to determine if cardholders received improper overpayments. The IG found 22 of the sampled cardholders requested and received overpayments totaling $8,544.

The Inspector General said the failures were a result of not demonstrating “proper” travel card use and unclear DOD policy on how supervisors should address travel card misuse. As a result, the travel card program remained vulnerable to continued misuse; DOD had less money available for legitimate travel expenses because of the travel overpayments; DOD experienced potential national security vulnerabilities,” and “cardholders were not offered assistance or potential financial concerns and gambling additions,” the report said.

The U.S. Air Force was by far the biggest offender, outspending other branches and civilian DOD employees with government-issued credit cards. In the year analyzed by investigators, the Air Force charged more than $400,000 in personal expenses at casinos and nearly $40,000 at strip clubs. The Army came in second by spending almost $350,000 at casinos during the same period and nearly $35,000 at adult entertainment establishments. As an example the report lists a member of the Naval Special Welfare Group who made a dozen transactions on a government credit card for a total of $1,116 at adult entertainment venues during a business trip to El Paso, Texas.

Another example features a senior airman at a North Carolina Air Force base who traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada on taxpayer dime. He made three charges totaling $4,686 with his government credit card at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, the DOD IG found. The same airman tried to charge an additional $920, but the watchdog discloses that the bank declined it because it would have exceeded the spending limit on the card. “The cardholder later admitted that he used his [government card] at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club VIP room for himself and several friends,” the report states.

The problem, as identified by the IG, is that current government travel credit card compliance programs fail to collect sufficient details on transactions that occurred at casinos, hotels or adult entertainment establishments to determine if the card was improperly used.In other words, DOD managers never find out whether the credit cards were used for shaving cream, poker chips or lap dances. In addition, noted the IG, the DOD does not require its component agencies or military branches to identify “high-risk merchants,” like casinos or adult entertainment establishments where misuse of credit cards is more likely to occur.