Grassley: Pentagon workers spent millions of pandemic dollars on personal expenses

NEW HARTFORD — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is firing new criticism at the Pentagon after an audit found tens of thousands of incidents where government workers inappropriately used federal pandemic dollars for personal expenses.

Grassley, a Republican, says it’s a “slap in the face to the taxpayer” that millions of dollars in military spending is being so blatantly misspent.

“The Defense Department is the only agency, let me emphasize, the only agency of the gigantic federal bureaucracy that when they get an audit, they never get their audit certified,” Grassley says. “I’ve written so many times that they don’t have a financial control system.”

Grassley is demanding accountability from the Pentagon after an Inspector General’s report found DOD employees used government purchase cards to make more than 110,000 purchases, while more than 43,000 of those were “inappropriately justified as pandemic-related expenses.” Grassley says more than 57,000 of the orders lacked proper documentation, “raising the risk of additional unsupported purchases.” The report stretched from March of 2020 to January of 2022.

“The financial control system didn’t check on pandemic money that was supposed to be used for the pandemic and it ended up being used for personal use,” Grassley says.

The senator says the questionable purchases and “irresponsible accounting” featured a range of items, including musical equipment, dental supplies, plumbing services, vehicle repair and even Nordic skiing machines. Grassley says the Pentagon has a long history of misspending.

“Something came up yesterday at one of my county meetings here,” Grassley says. “Somebody said, ‘Do you remember the $2,000 toilet seat?’ Well, it was really a $700 toilet seat, but that’s been 30 years ago.”

Grassley says when it comes to catching fraud, “the DOD’s internal controls are a complete failure.”