The Pentagon is looking into whether Defense Department employees tried to get the U.S. government to reimburse them for all the money they spent at strip clubs and casinos. Not whether military personnel spent tons of money at strip clubs and casinos, because they sure, sure did—no, just if they tried to get paid back after putting the tabs for their good times on Defense Department issued-credit cards.
Reuters reports that the Pentagon’s Inspector General is looking into those various expenses, which were considerable. A May report from the Inspector General’s office, which is delightful and which you can read in full right here, found that in one year, July 2013 to June 2014, people with official Defense Department credit cards spent $952,258 at casinos and $96,576 at “adult entertainment establishments.”
However, the people who oversee how the Defense Department spends its money say they don’t currently have “sufficient information” about whether those fun transactions constitute official misuse of government funds. Because they’re not sure whether those transaction were “personal use” or for some official military purpose.
One senior airman, the report adds, was definitely busted for “personal use” at a strip club or several:
A senior airman from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina used the GTCC [Department of Defense Government Travel Charge Card] for personal use while on official Government travel to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada near Las Vegas. The cardholder’s total per diem for the travel was $359.25. During his travel, the cardholder had three purchases at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club totaling $4,686. In addition, Citibank declined another GTCC transaction for $920 because the transaction would have exceeded his card’s credit limit. The cardholder later admitted that he used his GTCC at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club VIP room for himself and several friends.
Said airman was demoted and also issued an article 15, or, basically, sent to detention.
The Defense Travel Management Office responded to the Inspector General’s concerns, according to the report, by calling potential personal misuse of Pentagon credit cards “negligible,” saying it reflects “less than 0.5 percent of the total transactions and dollars spent on individually billed accounts.” So if you’re given to reflecting on the massive size of our military, how much money they spend, and the things they spend it on—you might reasonably be doing some of that now.
The Inspector General’s office wants to establish an official working group to figure out how to cut down on misuse of company cards, or at least spot the misuse when it does happen, by paying attention to things like multiple ATM withdrawals, withdrawals in areas other than places employees were supposed to be on official business, and high rates of cards getting declined. (The Travel Management Office disagrees that there’s a need for such a thing.) The IG also recommended that the Pentagon look into deactivating company credit cards when the employee isn’t traveling on official business.
You might wonder how the individual branches of the military have responded to this—and the answer is, they kinda did. Progam managers for the Marine Corps, Army and Navy were sent a list of their employees’ casino and strip club expenses and asked to review them. But the Inspector General said all of those military branches “did not perform sufficient reviews of all transactions.” They were politely asked to try again by June 30, although it’s unclear whether they met that deadline.
A Las Vegas casino, which one might conceivably frequent on official business for the Defense Department, we guess. Photo via Getty Images