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Dos Equis
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2015, 11:10:42 AM »

Part of the reason I am anti-tax militant is stories like this.  Makes my blood boil.

HHS execs doing good and living large, flying first class around the world
BY LUKE ROSIAK | JANUARY 9, 2015

An upgraded trip from Los Angeles to Sydney cost $14,201. Coach would have been $2,763. A medical disability was the reason for the upgrade.

Photo - HHS executives spent $31 million in first class and business class flights between 2009 and 2013. (iStock Photo)
HHS executives spent $31 million in first class and business class flights between 2009 and 2013....

Helping America's poor, aged and sick is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' reason for being, but hundreds of its top officials are traveling in style and luxury at taxpayer expense.

Records obtained by the Washington Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act show that HHS executives spent $31 million taking 7,000 first class and business class flights between 2009 and 2013, including 253 trips for which a one-way ticket cost more than $15,000.

Half the records listed the price of a coach ticket for comparison. For that portion alone, the upgrade boosted the cost by almost $14 million, from $4.9 million to $18.5 million.

Federal employees are allowed to fly business or first class if the flight is longer than 14 hours, but only 1,400 of the 7,000 flights met that description.

For the vast majority of the flights — 5,100 — the government executives upgraded because they claimed they had a medical disability that necessitated it.

Others cited "exceptional security circumstances," that no coach tickets were available, that a non-federal source was footing the bill, that first or business class was "required because of agency mission."

Then-Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took 14 first- or business-class trips totaling $56,000, including flights to and within India and from Paris to Vietnam.

The Food and Drug Administration took 2,000 upgraded trips costing $14 million and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took 3,000 trips costing $11 million. The National Institutes of Health took 1,300 such trips costing $3.5 million.

One flight for the Food and Drug Administration from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles , then to Australia and Germany, is listed as costing $26,469.23, with the upgrade because of a medical disability. A flight to Germany cost $23,000 for the same reason. Another FDA staffer spent an extra $10,000 of taxpayer money to fly first class from San Francisco to D.C.

A flight by FDA inspector David Heiar to India cost $30,000. Inspector Robert Horan flew to Hong Kong at a cost of $21,427 when coach would have cost $5,021. Another inspector flew to Australia for $12,344 when coach was $543.

But over 1,000 trips were for conferences, training sessions, speeches and meetings. An additional 1,000 records didn't have a description of the purpose.

Hundreds of trips were also taken by top HHS officials in the Office of the Secretary.

And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages Obamacare, took 50 upgraded flights, including a trip from Baltimore to a three-day conference in Phoenix where a first class ticket cost $3,000 each way. On another equally expensive trip to Baltimore, CMS' Joseph Fine said first class travel was "required because of agency mission."

CMS officials also flew business class from Charlotte, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina for $1,000 each way rather than drive three hours.

Other federal agencies spend heavily on first class travel as well, according to records reviewed by the Examiner, but none for which records were obtained appears to have come close to the 7,000 first class flights by HHS officials during the four-year period.

The FDA's efforts to inspect the sources of American food and drugs, and the CDC's mission to combat the spread of diseases, require more travel than most agencies.

But two departments that also have international missions appear to have managed to do more of their travel in coach. The Department of Defense had 784 first class flights during 2012 and 2013, but that number doesn't account for trips made on military aircraft. The Department of Commerce had 635 during those two years.

HHS did not return a request for comment.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/hhs-execs-doing-good-and-living-large-flying-first-class-around-the-world/article/2558399?utm_campaign=Fox%20News&utm_source=foxnews.com&utm_medium=feed
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« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2015, 11:21:31 AM »

Outrageous.  Because he runs every two years, he has an excuse to perpetually fundraise.  And the good little voters of Illinois will probably continue to send this turd back to D.C.  He is a walking advertisement for term limits.

Congressman's spending brings Schock and awe
His “Downton Abbey” decor fits a pattern of spending on resort hotels, charter flights and a personal photographer.
By Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer
2/9/15



He charters private planes and employs a personal photographer. In Aspen, Colorado, he stays at the Little Nell, a five-star resort near the ski slopes. In Las Vegas, he prefers the pricey Wynn hotel. While in Vail, Colorado, and San Francisco, it’s the Four Seasons. In Miami Beach, he’s sampled the Delano, Fontainebleau and the exclusive Soho Beach House. And in Beverly Hills, California, he’s tried both the Peninsula and the Beverly Wilshire.

Illinois GOP Rep. Aaron Schock raises a lot of money, for himself and other Republicans — he had $3.2 million in the bank at the end of December. And through his web of campaign committees, the 33-year-old lawmaker also spends lavishly.
Story Continued Below

Schock’s spending, which was always a subject of internal GOP chatter, has come under scrutiny since The Washington Post revealed last week that he had his Capitol Hill office redecorated to resemble “Downton Abbey.”

In addition to staying at expensive hotels, Schock also has spent more than $90,000 in campaign dollars on private air charters, an unusually high sum for a rank-and-file member of the House. His allies say it’s necessary so he can quickly hop between Republican districts across the country. House financial records also show that he has spent thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on private planes, which his office says helps him get around his Illinois district.

Schock’s campaign has also purchased a $74,000 Chevrolet Tahoe to help get him around back home in Illinois, in addition to a $27,000 Ford.

To keep track of all his comings and goings, Schock has hired a personal photographer. Jonathon Link, a former Dallas-area wedding photographer, now snaps shots for Schock, and both his campaign and taxpayers pick up the bill.

To pay for all of this, Schock is constantly fundraising, and he has repeatedly attended high-profile events. On Jan. 31, 2014, Schock cut a check to the NFL for more than $10,000 to cover the cost of Super Bowl tickets. In April 2013, Schock spent $3,320 on tickets to the CMA Country Music Awards. Instead of holding fundraisers at golf courses — as dozens of other Republicans do — Schock insiders say he prefers sporting and music events.

And to keep track of this burgeoning political operation, Schock has spent more than $200,000 on lawyers since 2011, including $91,369 in the past two years. He has come under the scrutiny of the Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly soliciting a contribution for a super PAC above the legal limits. Schock has denied any wrongdoing.

The campaign filings — analyzed by POLITICO — help illustrate a pattern of aggressive spending by Schock. The issue was first raised by the Post, which reported his office had been decorated in the theme of “Downton Abbey,” the British drama about early-20th-century English aristocrats, complete with red-painted walls, an elaborate mirror and a “gold-colored wall sconce with black candle.” USA Today then disclosed that Schock had previously shelled out “tens of thousands” in taxpayer dollars on office renovations, leather furniture and amenities like granite countertops.

Schock later said he would personally cover the cost of his “Downton Abbey” renovation.

Speaking in Peoria on Friday, Schock said the office renovation has made him “the punching bag” for the press.

“I’m the same person today that I was seven years ago when I was elected,” Schock insisted. “But when you’re in this environment, all is fair.”

None of this spending is illegal. Lawmakers are free to spend their political money as they wish, as long as they are not enriching themselves. And Schock, in an email, defended his spending. He said his cars “are used more often by the campaign than him personally, for such activities as distributing campaign yard signs, driving folks to parades, helping transport larger signs, etc.”

The pricey hotels are all “campaign-related expenses,” his office said. And Schock aides defended employing a full-time photographer; “what is spent on photographers is in line with what is raised as a result.”

“Rep. Schock has been consistently named one of the top fundraisers for the Republican Party,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Last year alone he was one of the top five fundraisers for the party in the House. Rep. Schock raised $2 million personally for the [National Republican Congressional Committee] last year, $15.2 million for the March Dinner and gave out half a million from his leadership PAC to other Members and Congressional candidates, obviously to raise that amount of money, he must spend resources as well and incur overhead costs. These trips are for fundraising events around the country or campaigning for other candidates. For example, in the month of October, he went to 40 different congressional districts.”

The hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees are “a matter of business practice to ensure he is in compliance with all applicable federal laws,” the statement added.

Schock certainly wants to be a high-profile player in Washington and back home in Illinois. The ambitious Republican was elected at 27, and six years later, he has a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He has eyed statewide office and once toyed with challenging NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.
He is a prodigious fundraiser, and pulled in $2.5 million from 2013 to 2014, and has given and raised a total of $2 million to the NRCC last year. Schock also funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars to his Republican colleagues, helping them win reelection and netting him political chits.

In 2014, Republican leaders tapped Schock to chair the NRCC’s March Dinner, the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. He raised more than $15 million for that event, setting a record.

But Schock has been equally well known for showing off his enviable lifestyle on social media. His Instagram account details his globetrotting, including surfing in Hawaii and meeting the pope. He posted a photo of his hang gliding in the Andes with the caption, “serenity in the skies of Mendoza.”

When Schock’s in Washington, his campaign accounts show that he spends money at a roster of typical D.C. fundraising spots including Fiola, Ristorante Tosca, the Capital Grille and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.

He’s dropped tens of thousands of dollars at pricey hotels and restaurants in Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Vail and Aspen. In one trip to Las Vegas, he spent $5,000 at the Wynn. He also cut checks to the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, Vail and Washington.

Schock has also taken several privately funded trips, according to the website LegiStorm, which tracks these expeditions. Schock went to India — Bangalore and New Delhi — during 2013, with an aide. He flew business class and stayed in the Taj Hotel, according to a filing. The trip cost more than $10,000, and was paid for by the National Indian American Public Policy Corp.

He also has taken privately funded trips to Havana; Barcelona, Spain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Turkey, according to trip records.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/aaron-schock-spending-115020.html#ixzz3RN5NhAco
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« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2015, 10:09:05 AM »

http://freebeacon.com/issues/obamas-dhs-spent-nearly-150m-on-office-furniture-and-makeovers/
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« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2015, 11:18:57 AM »

Obama, first lady flew on separate planes to L.A. on same day
By Dave Boyer - The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2015

Taxpayers paid for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to fly separately Thursday to Los Angeles, where they appeared on separate TV talk shows on the same day.

Mr. Obama flew on Air Force One, which costs about $228,000 per hour of flight time, to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Obama flew on a different plane Thursday across country to Burbank, California, to tape an appearance on Ellen Degeneres‘ show. That show will be broadcast on Monday.

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Friday that the president and first lady’s “schedules were not in sync in order to travel together.”

“I’m not even sure they overlapped,” he said when asked if the president and first lady saw each other in southern California Thursday.

Mr. Obama flew Friday morning from Los Angeles to Phoenix, where he was visiting the veterans’ hospital that sparked a scandal in health care services last year. He was scheduled to return to Washington late Friday.
 
It was Mrs. Obama’s fourth appearance on the “Ellen” show. She is promoting the fifth anniversary of her initiative to combat childhood obesity.

The show’s producers released video Friday of the segment, which includes Mrs. Obama and Ms. DeGeneres performing a high-energy dance with a troupe of backup dancers.

“There is some hip thrusting,” the first lady said after the microphone battery pack clipped to her waist came undone as they began the routine. “There’s a lot of it.”

Mrs. Obama’s office had not previously announced that she would be in California on Thursday.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/13/obama-first-lady-flew-separate-planes-la-same-day/#ixzz3UZtQ8MAL
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« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2015, 08:56:47 AM »

Outrageous.  Because he runs every two years, he has an excuse to perpetually fundraise.  And the good little voters of Illinois will probably continue to send this turd back to D.C.  He is a walking advertisement for term limits.

Congressman's spending brings Schock and awe
His “Downton Abbey” decor fits a pattern of spending on resort hotels, charter flights and a personal photographer.
By Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer
2/9/15



He charters private planes and employs a personal photographer. In Aspen, Colorado, he stays at the Little Nell, a five-star resort near the ski slopes. In Las Vegas, he prefers the pricey Wynn hotel. While in Vail, Colorado, and San Francisco, it’s the Four Seasons. In Miami Beach, he’s sampled the Delano, Fontainebleau and the exclusive Soho Beach House. And in Beverly Hills, California, he’s tried both the Peninsula and the Beverly Wilshire.

Illinois GOP Rep. Aaron Schock raises a lot of money, for himself and other Republicans — he had $3.2 million in the bank at the end of December. And through his web of campaign committees, the 33-year-old lawmaker also spends lavishly.
Story Continued Below

Schock’s spending, which was always a subject of internal GOP chatter, has come under scrutiny since The Washington Post revealed last week that he had his Capitol Hill office redecorated to resemble “Downton Abbey.”

In addition to staying at expensive hotels, Schock also has spent more than $90,000 in campaign dollars on private air charters, an unusually high sum for a rank-and-file member of the House. His allies say it’s necessary so he can quickly hop between Republican districts across the country. House financial records also show that he has spent thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on private planes, which his office says helps him get around his Illinois district.

Schock’s campaign has also purchased a $74,000 Chevrolet Tahoe to help get him around back home in Illinois, in addition to a $27,000 Ford.

To keep track of all his comings and goings, Schock has hired a personal photographer. Jonathon Link, a former Dallas-area wedding photographer, now snaps shots for Schock, and both his campaign and taxpayers pick up the bill.

To pay for all of this, Schock is constantly fundraising, and he has repeatedly attended high-profile events. On Jan. 31, 2014, Schock cut a check to the NFL for more than $10,000 to cover the cost of Super Bowl tickets. In April 2013, Schock spent $3,320 on tickets to the CMA Country Music Awards. Instead of holding fundraisers at golf courses — as dozens of other Republicans do — Schock insiders say he prefers sporting and music events.

And to keep track of this burgeoning political operation, Schock has spent more than $200,000 on lawyers since 2011, including $91,369 in the past two years. He has come under the scrutiny of the Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly soliciting a contribution for a super PAC above the legal limits. Schock has denied any wrongdoing.

The campaign filings — analyzed by POLITICO — help illustrate a pattern of aggressive spending by Schock. The issue was first raised by the Post, which reported his office had been decorated in the theme of “Downton Abbey,” the British drama about early-20th-century English aristocrats, complete with red-painted walls, an elaborate mirror and a “gold-colored wall sconce with black candle.” USA Today then disclosed that Schock had previously shelled out “tens of thousands” in taxpayer dollars on office renovations, leather furniture and amenities like granite countertops.

Schock later said he would personally cover the cost of his “Downton Abbey” renovation.

Speaking in Peoria on Friday, Schock said the office renovation has made him “the punching bag” for the press.

“I’m the same person today that I was seven years ago when I was elected,” Schock insisted. “But when you’re in this environment, all is fair.”

None of this spending is illegal. Lawmakers are free to spend their political money as they wish, as long as they are not enriching themselves. And Schock, in an email, defended his spending. He said his cars “are used more often by the campaign than him personally, for such activities as distributing campaign yard signs, driving folks to parades, helping transport larger signs, etc.”

The pricey hotels are all “campaign-related expenses,” his office said. And Schock aides defended employing a full-time photographer; “what is spent on photographers is in line with what is raised as a result.”

“Rep. Schock has been consistently named one of the top fundraisers for the Republican Party,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Last year alone he was one of the top five fundraisers for the party in the House. Rep. Schock raised $2 million personally for the [National Republican Congressional Committee] last year, $15.2 million for the March Dinner and gave out half a million from his leadership PAC to other Members and Congressional candidates, obviously to raise that amount of money, he must spend resources as well and incur overhead costs. These trips are for fundraising events around the country or campaigning for other candidates. For example, in the month of October, he went to 40 different congressional districts.”

The hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees are “a matter of business practice to ensure he is in compliance with all applicable federal laws,” the statement added.

Schock certainly wants to be a high-profile player in Washington and back home in Illinois. The ambitious Republican was elected at 27, and six years later, he has a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He has eyed statewide office and once toyed with challenging NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.
He is a prodigious fundraiser, and pulled in $2.5 million from 2013 to 2014, and has given and raised a total of $2 million to the NRCC last year. Schock also funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars to his Republican colleagues, helping them win reelection and netting him political chits.

In 2014, Republican leaders tapped Schock to chair the NRCC’s March Dinner, the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. He raised more than $15 million for that event, setting a record.

But Schock has been equally well known for showing off his enviable lifestyle on social media. His Instagram account details his globetrotting, including surfing in Hawaii and meeting the pope. He posted a photo of his hang gliding in the Andes with the caption, “serenity in the skies of Mendoza.”

When Schock’s in Washington, his campaign accounts show that he spends money at a roster of typical D.C. fundraising spots including Fiola, Ristorante Tosca, the Capital Grille and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.

He’s dropped tens of thousands of dollars at pricey hotels and restaurants in Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Vail and Aspen. In one trip to Las Vegas, he spent $5,000 at the Wynn. He also cut checks to the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, Vail and Washington.

Schock has also taken several privately funded trips, according to the website LegiStorm, which tracks these expeditions. Schock went to India — Bangalore and New Delhi — during 2013, with an aide. He flew business class and stayed in the Taj Hotel, according to a filing. The trip cost more than $10,000, and was paid for by the National Indian American Public Policy Corp.

He also has taken privately funded trips to Havana; Barcelona, Spain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Turkey, according to trip records.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/aaron-schock-spending-115020.html#ixzz3RN5NhAco

This made my day.  Good riddance.

Aaron Schock resigns after new questions about mileage expenses
By JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER and JOHN BRESNAHAN
3/17/15


Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.

Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car from January 2010 through July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was driven.

The discrepancy added to a growing wave of ethical and legal problems for the 33-year-old politician.

“[T]he constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself,” Schock said in a surprise statement on Tuesday. “I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents, and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”

Later Tuesday, a spokesman for Schock added, “In an effort to remove any questions and out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Schock has reimbursed all monies received for official mileage since his election to Congress.”

Schock’s resignation marks a swift downfall of one of the GOP’s most promising young stars and prolific fundraisers. The former state legislator was elected to Congress in 2008 and shot through the ranks of the House GOP, at one point gracing the cover of Men’s Health magazine. He was a fresh face in a party eager to update its image.

But as his prominence grew, Schock adopted an expensive lifestyle — staying in luxury hotels, dining at pricey restaurants, flying on private jets. Mounting questions about how he paid for it eventually caught up with him.

Schock’s fall

Mounting legal and ethical problems consumed the Illinois Republican over the past two months.
By Nick Gass

Feb. 2 - The Washington Post reports on Schock’s “Downton Abbey”-inspired office in the Rayburn House Office Building, featuring pheasant feathers and a bust of home-state President Abraham Lincoln.
Feb. 9 - Following the Post report and another revelation from USA Today, POLITICO details Schock’s lavish—but legal—spending at pricey hotels in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami Beach and other posh destinations for campaign purposes.
“In addition to staying at expensive hotels, Schock also has spent more than $90,000 in campaign dollars on private air charters, an unusually high sum for a rank-and-file member of the House,” POLITICO reported at the time.
Feb. 10 - Schock launches his own internal review of tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements he received for using his official vehicle. POLITICO reports that he has received approximately $1,000 in “private auto mileage” reimbursements from his monthly congressional allowance.
Feb. 24 - Schock brings on two prominent Washington defense lawyers and a public relations firm to battle the brewing controversy over his use of campaign and official accounts to pay for expensive travel and lodging accommodations.
His office declined to answer when asked about a 2011 trip to London in which he stayed at a five-star hotel where the cheapest room went for $500 per night. Documents obtained by POLITICO also showed he was scheduled to visit expensive clothing stores and dined at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
Feb. 26 - It comes out that the Illinois lawmaker never disclosed receiving dinner or drinks during the London trip, POLITICO reports.
 Feb. 27 - Schock suspends fundraising events.
The same day, POLITICO reports that Schock spent nearly $15,000 in government money for private flights between October and December.
March 1 - The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Schock used taxpayer money to fly from Peoria to Chicago for a Bears game the previous November.
March 6 - More details about Schock’s international spending surface, as some in his circle and the House Republican Conference fear the Illinois lawmaker could face an Ethics Committee investigation. He holds a news conference but does not alert the national media.
March 9 - POLITICO finds that Schock misreported his payment for the private flight from Peoria to Chicago for the Bears game, indicating the more than $3,000 as a software expenditure. In reality, the $3,000 was a deposit in addition to the $10,000 that Schock previously disclosed that he was billed for the flight, said Keith Sillats, the chief technology officer for Bytelogics.
March 11 - POLITICO asks the congressman in his home district whether he thought he had broken any rules or federal regulations. “Well, I certainly hope not,” Schock said. “I’m not an attorney.”
 March 16 - Investigators from the Office of Congressional Ethics start reaching out to people in Schock’s circle.
March 16 - POLITICO asks Schock about tens of thousands of dollars in questionable mileage reimbursements.
March 17 - Schock announces his resignation, effective March 31.

The congressman’s vehicle history was pieced together from dozens of pages of Illinois vehicle records.

When Schock transferred the SUV to an Illinois dealership in 2014, it had 81,860 miles on the odometer, documents show. However, from January 2010 to the end of July 2014, he billed the federal government for 123,131 miles on his personal vehicle. During the same period, the Republican billed his “Schock for Congress” campaign account and GOP Generation Y Fund, his leadership political action committee, for an additional 49,388 miles.

Altogether, Schock sought reimbursement for 172,520 miles on his car, despite the fact that he signed documents that certified the vehicle traveled less than half that distance.

Schock had no other vehicles registered in his name at the time, according to state public records. Multiple sources familiar with his office operations say he only drove the Tahoe during this period.

In November 2009, less than a year after Schock took his seat in Congress, the lawmaker bought the 2010 Tahoe from Green Chevrolet in Peoria. The dealership is owned by Jeff Green, a contributor to Schock who has flown the congressman around his district in his airplane and helicopter.

When Schock purchased the new car, it had four miles on it, according to publicly available automobile transaction documents.

On July 19, 2014, Schock transferred the car back to Green Chevrolet with 81,860 miles on it, according to a transfer document Schock signed.

On that same day in 2014, Schock bought a black 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe with 10 miles on it. Schock’s campaign spent nearly $75,000 on the car, according to campaign filings, but the congressman registered the car in his own name. The SUV sports congressional license plates with the number “18” — the number of Schock’s congressional district.

Between 2010 and 2014, the government mileage reimbursement requests were filed by Schock on a near-monthly basis. Members of Congress and staffers are permitted to bill the government and campaign for use of a personal vehicle, and, generally speaking, do not have to keep logs to record the miles they drive.

When asked about the mileage several weeks ago, Schock’s office said the congressman spends a lot of time in automobiles and chartering private jets between events in his central Illinois district. His office also raised the possibility that staffers were driving his vehicle and weren’t sure if it was permissible under the rules.

During the past month, Schock repaid the government $40,000 after spending money from his official office budget to redecorate his office to resemble the set of PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” an English historical drama. He also reimbursed taxpayers more than $1,200 after using his office account to pay to fly on a private plane to a Chicago Bears football game.

Separately, on a campaign-finance document, Schock labeled the cost of a November flight on a private plane as a software purchase. He has failed to report trips abroad, as required. And he held a fundraiser at a golf course without reporting paying for its use.

In an interview with POLITICO last week in Peoria, Schock could not say with certainty that he had not broken the law.

“I certainly hope not,” Schock said. The Illinois Republican added that he was not an attorney, and therefore could not know whether he broke the law or ethics rules. Schock also declined to directly answer whether he had accepted improper gifts as a member of Congress.

News reports by POLITICO and the Chicago Sun-Times raised a series of questions about Schock’s spending and record-keeping. The Office of Congressional Ethics opened an investigation of the lawmaker on Feb. 28 and has begun contacting his associates about appearing before the independent panel behind closed doors.

The OCE probe —and any potential Ethics Committee investigation — will disappear with Schock’s resignation. However, federal law enforcement could still look into Schock’s actions. He has two attorneys, former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Don McGahn and criminal defense attorney William McGinley, both of Jones Day. Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh, two longtime GOP communications aides, are handling his press strategy.

Schock will remain in Congress until March 31.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/aaron-schock-resigns-116153.html#ixzz3Ul05jvZJ
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« Reply #30 on: March 18, 2015, 09:05:38 AM »

This made my day.  Good riddance.

Aaron Schock resigns after new questions about mileage expenses
By JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER and JOHN BRESNAHAN
3/17/15


Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.

sounds like a partisan witch hunt to me.
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« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2015, 09:09:56 AM »

sounds like a partisan witch hunt to me.

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« Reply #32 on: March 20, 2015, 07:51:36 AM »

This made my day.  Good riddance.

Aaron Schock resigns after new questions about mileage expenses
By JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER and JOHN BRESNAHAN
3/17/15


Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.

Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car from January 2010 through July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was driven.

The discrepancy added to a growing wave of ethical and legal problems for the 33-year-old politician.

“[T]he constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself,” Schock said in a surprise statement on Tuesday. “I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents, and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”

Later Tuesday, a spokesman for Schock added, “In an effort to remove any questions and out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Schock has reimbursed all monies received for official mileage since his election to Congress.”

Schock’s resignation marks a swift downfall of one of the GOP’s most promising young stars and prolific fundraisers. The former state legislator was elected to Congress in 2008 and shot through the ranks of the House GOP, at one point gracing the cover of Men’s Health magazine. He was a fresh face in a party eager to update its image.

But as his prominence grew, Schock adopted an expensive lifestyle — staying in luxury hotels, dining at pricey restaurants, flying on private jets. Mounting questions about how he paid for it eventually caught up with him.

Schock’s fall

Mounting legal and ethical problems consumed the Illinois Republican over the past two months.
By Nick Gass

Feb. 2 - The Washington Post reports on Schock’s “Downton Abbey”-inspired office in the Rayburn House Office Building, featuring pheasant feathers and a bust of home-state President Abraham Lincoln.
Feb. 9 - Following the Post report and another revelation from USA Today, POLITICO details Schock’s lavish—but legal—spending at pricey hotels in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami Beach and other posh destinations for campaign purposes.
“In addition to staying at expensive hotels, Schock also has spent more than $90,000 in campaign dollars on private air charters, an unusually high sum for a rank-and-file member of the House,” POLITICO reported at the time.
Feb. 10 - Schock launches his own internal review of tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements he received for using his official vehicle. POLITICO reports that he has received approximately $1,000 in “private auto mileage” reimbursements from his monthly congressional allowance.
Feb. 24 - Schock brings on two prominent Washington defense lawyers and a public relations firm to battle the brewing controversy over his use of campaign and official accounts to pay for expensive travel and lodging accommodations.
His office declined to answer when asked about a 2011 trip to London in which he stayed at a five-star hotel where the cheapest room went for $500 per night. Documents obtained by POLITICO also showed he was scheduled to visit expensive clothing stores and dined at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
Feb. 26 - It comes out that the Illinois lawmaker never disclosed receiving dinner or drinks during the London trip, POLITICO reports.
 Feb. 27 - Schock suspends fundraising events.
The same day, POLITICO reports that Schock spent nearly $15,000 in government money for private flights between October and December.
March 1 - The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Schock used taxpayer money to fly from Peoria to Chicago for a Bears game the previous November.
March 6 - More details about Schock’s international spending surface, as some in his circle and the House Republican Conference fear the Illinois lawmaker could face an Ethics Committee investigation. He holds a news conference but does not alert the national media.
March 9 - POLITICO finds that Schock misreported his payment for the private flight from Peoria to Chicago for the Bears game, indicating the more than $3,000 as a software expenditure. In reality, the $3,000 was a deposit in addition to the $10,000 that Schock previously disclosed that he was billed for the flight, said Keith Sillats, the chief technology officer for Bytelogics.
March 11 - POLITICO asks the congressman in his home district whether he thought he had broken any rules or federal regulations. “Well, I certainly hope not,” Schock said. “I’m not an attorney.”
 March 16 - Investigators from the Office of Congressional Ethics start reaching out to people in Schock’s circle.
March 16 - POLITICO asks Schock about tens of thousands of dollars in questionable mileage reimbursements.
March 17 - Schock announces his resignation, effective March 31.

The congressman’s vehicle history was pieced together from dozens of pages of Illinois vehicle records.

When Schock transferred the SUV to an Illinois dealership in 2014, it had 81,860 miles on the odometer, documents show. However, from January 2010 to the end of July 2014, he billed the federal government for 123,131 miles on his personal vehicle. During the same period, the Republican billed his “Schock for Congress” campaign account and GOP Generation Y Fund, his leadership political action committee, for an additional 49,388 miles.

Altogether, Schock sought reimbursement for 172,520 miles on his car, despite the fact that he signed documents that certified the vehicle traveled less than half that distance.

Schock had no other vehicles registered in his name at the time, according to state public records. Multiple sources familiar with his office operations say he only drove the Tahoe during this period.

In November 2009, less than a year after Schock took his seat in Congress, the lawmaker bought the 2010 Tahoe from Green Chevrolet in Peoria. The dealership is owned by Jeff Green, a contributor to Schock who has flown the congressman around his district in his airplane and helicopter.

When Schock purchased the new car, it had four miles on it, according to publicly available automobile transaction documents.

On July 19, 2014, Schock transferred the car back to Green Chevrolet with 81,860 miles on it, according to a transfer document Schock signed.

On that same day in 2014, Schock bought a black 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe with 10 miles on it. Schock’s campaign spent nearly $75,000 on the car, according to campaign filings, but the congressman registered the car in his own name. The SUV sports congressional license plates with the number “18” — the number of Schock’s congressional district.

Between 2010 and 2014, the government mileage reimbursement requests were filed by Schock on a near-monthly basis. Members of Congress and staffers are permitted to bill the government and campaign for use of a personal vehicle, and, generally speaking, do not have to keep logs to record the miles they drive.

When asked about the mileage several weeks ago, Schock’s office said the congressman spends a lot of time in automobiles and chartering private jets between events in his central Illinois district. His office also raised the possibility that staffers were driving his vehicle and weren’t sure if it was permissible under the rules.

During the past month, Schock repaid the government $40,000 after spending money from his official office budget to redecorate his office to resemble the set of PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” an English historical drama. He also reimbursed taxpayers more than $1,200 after using his office account to pay to fly on a private plane to a Chicago Bears football game.

Separately, on a campaign-finance document, Schock labeled the cost of a November flight on a private plane as a software purchase. He has failed to report trips abroad, as required. And he held a fundraiser at a golf course without reporting paying for its use.

In an interview with POLITICO last week in Peoria, Schock could not say with certainty that he had not broken the law.

“I certainly hope not,” Schock said. The Illinois Republican added that he was not an attorney, and therefore could not know whether he broke the law or ethics rules. Schock also declined to directly answer whether he had accepted improper gifts as a member of Congress.

News reports by POLITICO and the Chicago Sun-Times raised a series of questions about Schock’s spending and record-keeping. The Office of Congressional Ethics opened an investigation of the lawmaker on Feb. 28 and has begun contacting his associates about appearing before the independent panel behind closed doors.

The OCE probe —and any potential Ethics Committee investigation — will disappear with Schock’s resignation. However, federal law enforcement could still look into Schock’s actions. He has two attorneys, former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Don McGahn and criminal defense attorney William McGinley, both of Jones Day. Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh, two longtime GOP communications aides, are handling his press strategy.

Schock will remain in Congress until March 31.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/aaron-schock-resigns-116153.html#ixzz3Ul05jvZJ

Schock's dad outed him in an interview.  Classless.  

Barney Frank hatin' on Schock for voting anti-gay hypocrisy.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/aaron-schock-sexuality-barney-frank-116259.html?cmpid=sf

While it looks like Schock probably resigned for way more than "a mileage snafu", aren't his sexual preferences are his own business?
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« Reply #33 on: March 20, 2015, 08:47:23 AM »

Schock's dad outed him in an interview.  Classless.  

Barney Frank hatin' on Schock for voting anti-gay hypocrisy.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/aaron-schock-sexuality-barney-frank-116259.html?cmpid=sf

While it looks like Schock probably resigned for way more than "a mileage snafu", aren't his sexual preferences are his own business?

Another day, another lie by the lying liar. 

Schock has flatly denied being gay, and his father, Dr. Richard Schock, raised the issue of his son’s sexuality this week in an interview with ABC7 Chicago.
“Aaron is very popular. Aaron is a little different,” the elder Schock said. “He wears stylish clothing, and yet he’s not gay. And it makes people — and he’s not married, and he’s not running around with women. So, everybody’s throwing up their arms; they can’t figure out Aaron.”


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« Reply #34 on: March 20, 2015, 08:55:35 AM »

Another day, another lie by the lying liar. 

Schock has flatly denied being gay, and his father, Dr. Richard Schock, raised the issue of his son’s sexuality this week in an interview with ABC7 Chicago.
“Aaron is very popular. Aaron is a little different,” the elder Schock said. “He wears stylish clothing, and yet he’s not gay. And it makes people — and he’s not married, and he’s not running around with women. So, everybody’s throwing up their arms; they can’t figure out Aaron.”




yeah, i'm sure you're right.
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« Reply #35 on: March 20, 2015, 09:04:12 AM »

yeah, i'm sure you're right.

Right that you lied about his father outing him?  Well duh.  I posted the quote from your own link. 

You are a pathological liar. 
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« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2015, 03:56:29 PM »

Hotel for Michelle Obama’s Cambodia visit cost $242,500
By Elizabeth Harrington
Published March 30, 201
5Washington Free Beacon

Hotel accommodations for First Lady Michelle Obama’s two-day trip to Cambodia required 85 rooms and cost taxpayers $242,500, according to a government contract released Friday.

Mrs. Obama traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on March 21 to promote a girls education initiative. A contract was awarded on March 3, citing the “unusual and compelling urgency” of the First Lady’s trip.

Mrs. Obama and a delegation of senior high-level U.S. government officials stayed at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, according to a justification and approval document for the visit.

The trip required 85 single rooms, five office suites, five sleeping suites, and one conference room for 14 nights. Mrs. Obama herself only stayed in Cambodia for two days, leaving on March 22.

The Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra is listed as a luxury five-star hotel.

“The Siem Reap hotel, which elegantly combines Khmer and French architectural design, features landscaped gardens, [five] restaurants and bars, meeting facilities, a luxury spa and the largest free form swimming pool in Cambodia,” according to Accor, the French hotel operator that manages the hotel. “The leading luxury resort in Siem Reap also boosts a world-class 18-hole golf course at the Phokeethra Country Club, which is only a 25 [minute] drive from the hotel.”

Suites at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra come with personal butler service.

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/30/hotel-for-michelle-os-cambodia-visit-cost-242500/?intcmp=HPBucket
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« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2015, 10:50:22 AM »

Pentagon credit cards used for gambling, escorts
IG report finds military officials and civilians used government cards for ‘adult entertainment.’

By BRYAN BENDER 5/6/15

A Defense Department audit has found that a number of Pentagon employees used their government credit cards to gamble and pay for “adult entertainment” — findings that are expected to lead department officials to issue stern new warnings.

The audit of “Government Travel Charge Transactions” by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, which is to be made public in coming weeks, found that both civilian and military employees used the credit cards at casinos and for escort services and other adult activities — in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

A Pentagon official briefed on some of the findings stressed that the federal government did not necessarily pay the charges; holders of the cards pay their own bills and then submit receipts to be reimbursed for expenses related to their government business.

The official said that the employees may have used the government cards for gambling and escort services in order to shield the charges from spouses.
Because the review was an audit of the credit card system and not an investigation of particular individuals, the official said the likely result will be that the agencies and military branches most affected will be compelled to remind employees that the practice violates policy — and possibly the law.

A Pentagon spokeswoman acknowledged the existence of the audit but said she was not authorized to speak about it until its release later this month.

The abuses come despite a 2012 law proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act. The law required federal agencies to beef up oversight of purchases on government-issued credit cards.

Grassley said in a statement he hopes that the law is one reason why the audit was completed in the first place.

“I’m interested to see the report and find out more about what’s being done, right and wrong, at DoD to prevent abuse,” he said. “What I hope is that my reforms that became law have been implemented well and that agencies and auditors are using the reforms to catch problems.”

He added: “The law requires periodic audits by inspectors general, like this one, specifically to keep on top of charge card abuse and hold agencies accountable for implementing the required internal controls. That’s especially true with purchase cards, where taxpayer money is directly involved even more than with travel cards, but the reforms should prevent travel card abuse, too. If everything is implemented as intended, we’ll stop a lot of purchase card and travel card abuse.”

Some estimates suggest that such prohibited purchases cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

In 2008, for example, a report by the Government Accountability Office found that “abuse of government issued credit cards has been a growing challenge in recent years.”

It cited instances “where cardholders used purchase cards to subscribe to Internet dating services, buy video iPods for personal use and pay for lavish dinners that included top-shelf liquor.”

Late last year, federal auditors reported to Congress that the problem persists despite efforts to rein it in.

For example, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General recently found that Job Corps employees charged nearly $100,000 to the government for hair cuts, clothing, and personal cell phone service. The Department of Homeland Security found that Coast Guard employees charged more than $12,000 at a one California coffee shop alone. Three employees were fired and two resigned last year at the Bureau of Land Management after they charged $800,000 worth of gift cards on their government credit cards.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/pentagon-credit-cards-escorts-gambling-inspector-general-report-117696.html#ixzz3ZTpHkVt4
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« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2015, 02:57:25 PM »

Good work if you can get it.

Average NYC school janitor makes $109K a year
By Aaron Short
September 20, 2015 | 5:30am

Photo: Shutterstock

School custodians are cleaning up — in the hallways and in their paychecks — because the city doesn’t want to hire enough of them.

Custodians took home an average pay of $109,467 in the 2013-14 school year — and 634 of the city’s 799 custodians earned more than $100,000 in salary and overtime during that time, city payroll records show.

That’s because of the city’s 1,500 school buildings, 238 have no full-time custodian on site, up 74 percent from the 137 empty slots in 2012, according to data from the custodians union.

The arrangement is forcing nearly one-third of the city’s 737 custodians to cover two schools — and reap additional pay.

Union leaders say the city has traded school cleanliness and safety for a meager savings.

“The city is not saving much money because they’re paying my members to be at both places,” said International Union of Operating Engineers Local 891 president Robert Troeller, referring to overtime costs. “I don’t know why they’re not hiring. It’s ridiculous.”

Custodians possess licenses needed to operate and maintain a school building, including credentials for boilers, heating/air conditioning and fire sprinklers and alarms.

Department of Education spokesman Jason Fink said school buildings have “fully qualified” staff members on site who can perform all duties required.

http://nypost.com/2015/09/20/average-nyc-school-janitor-makes-109k-a-year/
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« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2015, 03:48:01 PM »

why is a custodian making $100k with all the overtime?   Don't we have 59% unemployment (republican estimates)?

Cut the job in half, and pay TWO people $50k each to do the job.
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« Reply #40 on: September 30, 2015, 09:36:13 AM »

House report: Planned Parenthood spent millions on ‘blowout’ parties, travel, salaries
Published September 30, 2015
FoxNews.com

Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have spent millions in recent years on "blowout" parties, first-class travel and "lucrative" salaries, according to a report from the chairman of the House oversight committee.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, publicly accused the organization of spending a big chunk of its budget on non-health care expenses during a heated hearing on Tuesday. But on the sidelines of that hearing, he released a report detailing those costs.

In doing so, he and other Republicans continued to question whether Planned Parenthood needs all the taxpayer funding it receives.

"If they're going to pay those people that much money and pay for first-class travel and have all of these exorbitant parties, and send money overseas, then they don't need funding from the American taxpayers," Chaffetz told Fox News.

According to the report, which cited tax returns, Planned Parenthood spent over $5.1 million on travel in 2013, or nearly $14,000 a day. On top of that, several affiliates reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on travel. The report also said Planned Parenthood "books first class or charter travel," though President Cecile Richards said at Tuesday's hearing that she, personally, does not travel first class.

The report also said Planned Parenthood gave nearly $22 million in grants over five years to its Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is legally able to do lobbying activity. Campaign finance records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show donations from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc. PAC, in turn, go almost exclusively to Democratic candidates.

Further, the House report said Planned Parenthood spent $622,706 on "blowout parties" in 2013 and 2013; and the group's affiliates likewise spent on events ranging from a so-called "Gathering of Goddesses and Gods" to "Murder Mystery" fundraisers.

The report also said over 40 executives earned salaries of $200,000 or more between 2009 and 2013. Richards acknowledged during Tuesday's hearing, under questioning from Chaffetz, that her annual compensation is $520,000.

Chaffetz called the salaries "exorbitant."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., later criticized Chaffetz for the line of questioning, accusing him of "beating up on a woman ... for making a good salary."

Republicans, though, argued that Planned Parenthood doesn't need all the taxpayer money it gets. According to the committee, about 41 percent of the group's reported $1.3 billion in revenue is government funding. Most of those funds are simply reimbursements for services through Medicaid -- but $60 million comes from Title X funding, through the "National Family Planning Program." Chaffetz said that's the funding in question.

Asked Tuesday about the group's spending on travel and other expenses, Richards noted their organization is in 50 states and works overseas.

"We have programs in Latin America and in Africa as well, where we support family planning programs in those," she said, while offering to provide more details on their financial situation.

She also stressed, "We don't make any profit off of federal money."

The hearing was held amid congressional investigations into a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood workers discussing fetal tissue harvesting.

Democrats blasted Republicans for their scrutiny of Planned Parenthood, following the hearing.

"Once again, House Republicans have wasted taxpayer time and money to conduct a wasteful investigation into baseless allegations," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "Their efforts to try to score cheap political points instead of governing on behalf of hardworking families is exactly why the American people are frustrated with Washington."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/09/30/house-report-planned-parenthood-spent-millions-on-blowout-parties-travel/?intcmp=hpbt2
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« Reply #41 on: October 02, 2015, 03:11:47 PM »

GAO: Feds made nearly $1 trillion in overpayments since fiscal 2003
By  Elizabeth MacDonald
Published October 02, 2015
FoxNews.com

Government waste took a significant turn for the worse in fiscal 2014, rising dramatically to $124.7 billion from $105.8 billion in fiscal 2013.

That’s a striking increase of nearly 20 percent in improper federal payments. As the White House and Congress continues to blow out the federal deficit to $18 trillion in their Miracle-Gro, “Supersize Me” approach to government, little is being done to stop federal overpayments. Since fiscal 2003, “cumulative improper payment estimates have totaled almost $1 trillion,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report.

U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro testified Thursday on the GAO’s new findings (http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-92T) before the Senate Finance Committee.

In total, overpayments accounted for approximately 90 percent of the federal government’s improper payment estimate, the GAO said. The waste spans 24 federal programs across 22 government agencies.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said: "There is, of course, plenty of questionable spending that the government does on purpose on a more or less daily basis -- but that’s a whole other hearing,"

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s highest-ranking Democrat, said: “Every taxpayer dollar lost to mistakes -- no matter the cause -- is a dollar that’s not available to help seniors cover medical costs, put a student through college, or rebuild our aging infrastructure.”

The GAO said three programs were most at fault: Medicare, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These three government programs were responsible for a full three-quarters of the nearly $19 billion in erroneous payments the federal government made in fiscal 2014, the GAO said.

“Improper payments remain a significant and pervasive government-wide issue,” the congressional watchdog unit warned.

The Earned Income Tax Credit program was the worst offender.

The Internal Revenue Service estimated that the program erroneously handed out $17.7 billion worth of “improper” payments. That amounts to a whopping 27.2 percent of the total $65.2 billion in EITC refund checks that the IRS sent out in fiscal 2014.

And that means the federal government is now fast approaching the day when one out of every three earned income tax credits is erroneous.

Medicare was nearly as bad. The program, which covers about 54 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries, incorrectly doled out $59.9 billion in fiscal 2014, which is about a tenth of its $603 billion budget.

So, one out of every $10 that Medicare spent last year was erroneous, the GAO found.  Medicaid made $17.5 billion in mistaken payments out of its $304 billion budget, for a nearly 6 percent error rate.

Besides the EITC program, the federal programs with the highest reported error rates for fiscal 2014 included the School Breakfast program (25.6 percent) and the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act Programs (23.1 percent).

The congressional watchdog group also warned that unless Congress and the administration crack down, the taxpayer-funded overpayments will continue to rise, since “federal spending in Medicare and Medicaid is expected to significantly increase -- on average by 8.6 percent annually over the next three years.”

And Dodaro repeatedly said Thursday that Congress and the White House must do more to protect taxpayer money, demanding they enforce accountability at these agencies.

Most glaring is the fact that the federal government still can’t gauge how bad the problem is.

“GAO has reported for several years that the federal government is unable to determine the full extent to which improper payments occur and reasonably assure that actions are taken to reduce them,” its report said.

Only since fiscal 2003 did federal agencies begin reporting improper payments, as required by the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002, the watchdog unit noted.

Elizabeth MacDonald is a senior stocks editor for Fox Business News

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/10/02/gao-feds-made-nearly-1-trillion-in-overpayments-since-fiscal-2003/
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« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2015, 11:52:57 AM »

Report: DHS spends $1B to digitize, only 1 immigration form available online
Published November 09, 2015
·FoxNews.com

A Department of Homeland Security agency spent more than $1 billion in taxpayer money to digitize immigration paperwork -- and after a decade of work, only has managed to put one document online.

The Washington Post reported Monday that officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services still are only able to offer a single form -- out of nearly 100 -- for online applications, and make a single fee payable electronically.

All other forms can still only be filed with paper.

The report sheds light on a struggling effort that not only has frustrated immigrant applicants but raises national security concerns and could put at risk any effort to overhaul immigration policies.

The project was originally supposed to be done in 2013, for a half-billion-dollar price tag.

Now, according to the Post, it isn't projected to be done for another four years and could cost over $3 billion.

"It's a huge albatross around our necks," Kenneth Palinkas, former head of the USCIS union, told the Post.

The report from the Post described a startling sequence of mismanagement in the program.

According to the report, agency officials did not finish a basic plan for the new system until three years after the initial contract was given to IBM, rendering part of the plan outdated before work began.

Only three forms were ever digitized, but two needed to be taken down after problems. The only available online form is an application for renewing or replacing a lost green card.

According to the Post, even that system has had problems and delays.

While DHS officials acknowledge these setbacks, they say the department has abandoned earlier plans and is moving toward a new system based in part on cloud computing, according to the Post.

"We took a fresh start -- a fix that required an overhaul of the development process -- from contracting to development methodology to technology," a USCIS spokesman told the newspaper.

The spokesman said they're "confident we are moving in the right direction."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/11/09/report-dhs-spends-1b-to-digitize-only-1-immigration-form-available-online/?intcmp=hpbt3
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« Reply #43 on: November 11, 2015, 10:03:29 AM »

Veterans Affairs pays $142 million in bonuses amid scandals
Donovan Slack and Bill Theobald, USA TODAY
November 11, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans' health care and other issues racked the agency.

Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the country last year. They received $300 to $900 each. Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw the over-prescription of opiates to veterans – one of whom died.

The VA also rewarded executives who managed construction of a facility in Denver, a disastrous project years overdue and more than $1 billion over budget. They took home $4,000 to $8,000 each. And in St. Cloud, Minn., where an internal investigation report last year outlined mismanagement that led to mass resignations of health care providers, the chief of staff cited by investigators received a performance bonus of almost $4,000.

As one of his final acts last year before resigning, then-VA secretary Eric Shinseki announced he was suspending bonuses in the wake of revelations that VA employees falsified wait lists to meet wait-time targets — ostensibly as part of efforts to secure the extra pay. But he only curtailed them for a sliver of VA executives -- those in senior levels of the Veterans Health Administration, which oversees health care.

The agency has continued to pay performance-based bonuses to nearly half of agency employees, including in health administration, according to data provided to USA TODAY by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In all, some 156,000 executives, managers and employees received them for 2014 performance.

VA spokesman James Hutton said the vast majority of agency employees are committed to serving veterans.

“VA will continue to review tools and options in order to ensure the department is able to attract and retain the best talent to serve our nation's veterans, while operating as a good steward of taxpayer funds,” Hutton said.

That’s not good enough for Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House VA committee, which has been investigating questionable VA bonuses for years. Miller says the most recent awards reflect a “disturbing trend of rewarding employees who preside over corruption and incompetence.”

He noted the agency paid more than $380,000 in 2013 performance bonuses to top officials at hospitals where veterans faced long delays in receiving treatment, including those under investigation for wait-time manipulation. “Rewarding failure only breeds more failure,” he said Tuesday. “Until VA leaders learn this important lesson and make a commitment to supporting real accountability at the department, efforts to reform VA are doomed to fail.”

Miller spearheaded – and the House passed – a measure last year that would have eliminated bonuses for VA senior executives for five years. But ultimately the House and Senate compromised on legislation that still allows the VA to hand out up to $360 million annually to executives, managers and employees.

Overall, the agency awarded $276 million in incentives in 2014, including retention and relocation payments, rewards for saving money on travel and coming up with inventive ideas, according to committee data.

The cash bonuses of $142.5 million were tied to performance reviews. Employees were eligible to receive the lump-sum payments for ratings of “fully successful” or higher. The payments ranged from $8 to as much as $12,705. Most were more than $500. The average payout was $909.

Here are some of the recipients:

-- In Tomah, Wis., the former chief of staff of the VA medical center there, Dr. David Houlihan — whom veterans nicknamed the “Candy Man” because of his prolific prescribing of narcotics — received a $4,000 bonus in December. That was nine months after an inspector general investigation report concluded he was prescribing alarmingly high amounts of opiates. And it was four months after Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski, 35, died of "mixed-drug toxicity" as an inpatient at Tomah after he was prescribed a fatal cocktail of medications, including opiates. The inpatient pharmacist supervisor also received a $1,050 bonus in December. A spokesman for the Tomah VA declined to comment. The VA moved last month to fire Houlihan. A lawyer who represented him did not respond to a message Tuesday seeking comment.

-- In Colorado, the flawed facility construction project in Denver was overseen in part by several VA officials headquartered in Washington. Among them were Stella Fiotes, executive director of the VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management, who received a $8,985 bonus; Dennis Milsten, an associate director in the same office, who got $8,069; and Chris Kyrgos, former national acquisitions director, who took home $3,800. VA spokesman Hutton did not address those awards beyond his general statement about the VA continually reviewing incentive options.

-- In St. Cloud, Minn., chief of staff Dr. Susan Markstrom got a $3,900 bonus in 2014. She was cited in an internal investigation report in January 2014 that concluded mismanagement led to mass resignations of health care providers at the facility. The report also said she and other leaders oversaw a work environment where employees were scared to report problems. St. Cloud VA spokesman Barry Venable said issues cited in the report were in 2013 and that Markstrom is “an excellent chief of staff" whose "ongoing contributions to patient care and safety are significant.”

-- In Augusta, Ga., VA financial manager Jed Fillingim was awarded a $900 performance bonus. He drew scrutiny from Congress last year after news reports revealed he admitted drinking and driving a government truck to a VA meeting in 2010 and a co-worker fell from the truck and was killed. Fillingim resigned from the VA after the incident but was rehired in March 2011, WRC-TV reported. A spokesman for the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Brian Rothwell, said Fillingim is not employed there.

-- In Arizona, Sandra Flint, now-former director of the Phoenix regional VA benefits office, received a bonus of $8,348. Irate veterans confronted Flint at a public forum in August 2014 over a backlog of about 8,200 pending benefit claims. Included were 3,667 pending longer than 125 days. A spokeswoman at the office could not be reached for comment.

-- In St. Paul, Minn., VA benefits office director Kimberly Graves received a bonus of $8,697 for 2014 performance. A VA inspector general report issued in September this year concluded Graves improperly used her authority to engineer a switch into her current post in October 2014. IG investigators concluded she also improperly received an additional $129,000 related to the move. Graves pleaded the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions at a House VA Committee hearing last week.

Hutton, the national VA spokesman, underscored that no top senior executives in the Veterans Health Administration received bonuses. “The issues raised in your questions focus on challenges VA has faced in the past,” he said. “(T)he department is working diligently to plan a foundation for the future that will modernize VA’s culture, processes, and capabilities to put the needs, expectations and interests of veterans and their families first.”

Miller said the agency, if it hands out bonuses at all, should do more to ensure they don’t reward the wrong behavior. He also wants the agency to take back bonuses deemed inappropriate after they are awarded.

“VA loves to tout its bonus program as a way to attract and retain the best and brightest employees,” he said. “Unfortunately, often times the employees VA rewards with thousands in taxpayer-funded bonuses are not the type of people the department should be interested in attracting or retaining.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/11/11/veterans-affairs-pays-142-million-bonuses-amid-scandals/75537586/
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« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2016, 06:49:30 PM »

VA spent $20M on art as ailing veterans languished, report finds
By Elizabeth Harrington 
Published July 27, 2016 
Washington Free Beacon

The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.

The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.

“In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”

“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,” Andrzejewski said.

The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.

A “rock sculpture” cost taxpayers $482,960, and more than a half a million dollars were spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.

“In an ironic vignette, at a healthcare facility dedicated to serving blind veterans—the new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center—the agency wasted $670,000 on two sculptures no blind veteran can even see,” Andrzejewski said. “The ‘Helmick Sculpture’ cost $385,000 (2014) and a parking garage exterior wall façade by King Ray Studio for the ‘design, fabrication, and installation of the public artwork’ cost $285,000 (2014).”

“Blind veterans can’t see fancy sculptures, and all veterans would be happier if they could just see a doctor,” he said.

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/07/27/va-spent-20m-on-art-as-ailing-veterans-languished-report-finds.html
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« Reply #45 on: August 29, 2016, 11:46:40 AM »

Feds Spend Nearly $1M to Study Alcohol Habits of Lesbian Couples

Image: Feds Spend Nearly $1M to Study Alcohol Habits of Lesbian Couples
(AP Images)
Monday, 29 Aug 2016

The federal government will shell out close to $1 million for a study of the alcohol habits of lesbian couples and bisexual women, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

 The National Institutes of Health has awarded the money as a grant to Virginia-based Old Dominion University by National Institutes of Health to look at the romantic relationships of same-sex females in a bid to find what causes them to drink.

"Sexual minority women … report more heavy drinking, more alcohol-related problems, and higher rates of alcohol use disorders as compared to heterosexual women. Young sexual minority women are particularly vulnerable," the grant for the study says.

"No studies have examined how relationship factors and partners' alcohol use contribute to hazardous drinking among female sexual minority couples."

One hundred fifty lesbians will be recruited for the study.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Feds-Study-Lesbian-Couple-Drinking/2016/08/29/id/745642/#ixzz4Ikhq1tsJ
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« Reply #46 on: August 29, 2016, 11:48:40 AM »

Feds Spend Nearly $1M to Study Alcohol Habits of Lesbian Couples

most men support this study Wink

Any insight we can gain as to how to convince 2 women to get wasted and toss us into the mix....
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« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2016, 09:28:50 AM »

Pentagon Officials Permitted Government Spending at Strip Clubs and Casinos: Report
Mahita Gajanan @mahitagajanan 
Aug. 30, 2016   
 
Department of Defense workers spent nearly $100,000 at strip clubs and almost $1 million at casinos

Pentagon officials allowed their employees to use government credit cards at strip clubs and casinos, without any disciplinary action, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The report from the Department of Defense’s inspector general found that management did not take the correct course of action after finding out their workers used government credit cards for non-work related purposes.

“DoD management did not take appropriate action when notified that cardholders potentially misused their travel card at casinos and adult entertainment establishments,” the report said. “Specifically, DoD management and travel card officials did not perform adequate reviews for the cardholders reviewed and did not take action to eliminate additional misuse.”

Department of Defense workers spent nearly $100,000 at strip clubs and “adult entertainment establishments,” and almost $1 million at casinos, according to the report, which cited a May 2015 audit. At the request of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the inspector general further investigated the matter.

According to the report, out of a sample of 30 government cardholders, 22 sought and received reimbursements on 131 vouchers totaling $8,544. Furthermore, officials did not consider the “security implications of improper personal use of the travel card,” the report found.

The oversight occurred because officials did not emphasize proper use of the travel card and management did not know what disciplinary action to take, according to the report.

Because the spending was allowed, the Department of Defense had less money available for work-related travel expenses and experienced potential national security vulnerabilities.

http://time.com/4472824/pentagon-spending-strip-club-casino/
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« Reply #48 on: September 15, 2016, 05:01:17 AM »

‘Disadvantaged’ Beverly Hills Fashionista Worked No-Show VA Job, Took Millions From Feds
Daily Caller ^ | 9/11/2016 | Luke Rosiak
Posted on 9/15/2016, 8:22:56 AM by simpson96

A fashionista from Beverly Hills, Calif., collected millions in interior design contracts from federal agencies by claiming to be “disadvantaged,” while simultaneously working at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sending work to design companies.

Ronda C. Jackson was a no-show at her VA job, colleagues said. Records show she instead spent her time running a design company that got $7 million in contracts from the VA and other government agencies since 2008, reselling them marked-up goods like five-seat tables for $17,000.

Since 1997, Jackson has run Décor Interior Design, which seeks preference on government contracts by claiming to be disadvantaged because she is black, a woman and based out of a supposedly downtrodden “Historically Underutilized Business Zone” (HUBZone). The reduced-competition contracting program is known as 8(a).

Jackson worked as a full-time federal employee at the Los Angeles VA center in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, which ran from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2011. Pay records show she worked as a GS-12 level interior designer and made $80,000 each year. Colleagues said they never saw Jackson in the office.

(Excerpt) Read more at dailycaller.com ...
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« Reply #49 on: October 05, 2016, 03:15:23 PM »

Obama Administation Hires Hundreds of PR Staffers for $500 Million a Year
by Katherine Rodriguez
5 Oct 2016
 
The Obama administration hired hundreds of public relations employees to sell the administration’s policies, costing U.S. taxpayers $500 million a year, according to the government’s top watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that the administration added 667 PR staffers between 2008 and 2011 to bring the staffing total to 5,238; the number decreased since then, but 5,100 staffers remained in the administration in 2014, The Washington Times reported.

The GAO says these figures do not include the $100 million spent on private PR consultants to bolster the government’s PR efforts.

The government spent $800 million on contracts with outside advertising firms in 2015 to promote the administration’s policies, The Washington Times reported.

“With increasing pressures on limited federal resources, it is crucial to know how much is spent across the federal government on public relations activities and which federal agencies are spending the most,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who requested the report.

According to The Washington Times, the Pentagon gained the most PR staffers out of all the federal agencies, with 2,100 employees assigned to the agency.

The Interior Department, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security also saw big gains in PR staff.

Some departments, such as Social Security, the Transportation and Labor departments, and the National Science Foundation, faced the smallest PR staffing gains in a decade.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/10/05/obama-administation-hires-hundreds-pr-staffers-500-million-year/
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