Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 123 81_wotd_wk_123

June 19, 2023 12:50 PM



Pentagon Overvalued Ukraine Aid by $3B

June 19, 2023


The Department of Defense made a formidable accounting mistake when it overvalued by $3 billion weaponry it gave to Ukraine, freeing up more money for additional aid without needing Congressional approval, according to Reason magazine.

The Wall Street Journal initially broke the story, reporting that the $3 billion mistake was a result of using book valuations for new equipment, while the equipment sent was older and used. A Pentagon spokesperson said, “In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ rather than ‘net book value’ was used, therefore overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks.”

The error was discovered in an internal audit last March, and now frees up an $3 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, since the U.S. effectively sent $3 billion less in aid than previously thought. Officials cautioned that the overvalued amount could grow as it continues to audit its programs.

Reason noted allowing the White House to send more to Ukraine without Congressional approval comes as lawmakers have shown increasing skepticism of sending military aid.

While there is no evidence of any malfeasance, it raises an important point: Americans need to have confidence in where their tax dollars are going and how they are accounted for.

The Pentagon has a budget of $842 billion in 2023, but it still has yet to pass an audit with a clean opinion. Americans are right to be suspicious of other spending figures from the DOD, given the frequency and magnitude of its accounting errors.

It’s essential that taxpayers have confidence that their money is being used and accounted for in an accurate and ethical way, and mistakes like these undermine that confidence in some of our largest and most important institutions.



DHS Funded Program Comparing Republicans, Christians to Terrorists

June 20, 2023


The Department of Homeland Security is giving anti-terror funding to a university program that compared Republican and Christian groups to white supremacist groups and neo-Nazis, according to the Media Research Center.

The DHS grant of $352,109 funded a 2021 seminar at Dayton University of Ohio, titled “Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity” and featured a graphic called the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization.” It compared groups like Fox News, the Republican Party, and the Christian Broadcasting Network to neo-Nazi groups like the Daily Stormer and white supremacy groups like the American Identity Movement.

All of these groups were sorted into different tiers of extremists, with the Republican Party, for example, representing a lower level of radicalism and extremism, and other hate groups representing higher levels.

This seminar was hosted and funded by Dayton University’s PREVENTS-OH program, which received the DHS grant as part of the Department’s “Targeted Violence & Terrorism Prevention Grant Program.” The program awarded about $40 million over 80 grants to fight “all forms of terrorism and targeted violence” and host “media literacy and online critical thinking initiatives.”

The PREVENTS-OH program hosted other radical speakers, including a University of Cincinnati Research Fellow who was a self-proclaimed member of Antifa. The seminar that featured the graphic comparing Republicans to Nazis also “compared former President Donald Trump to Pol Pot and suggested Florida Governor Ron DeSantis might wish to start a second Holocaust,” according to MRC.

It’s egregious enough that an academic institution would host and promote such divisive and absurd seminars, but forcing Americans to fund a seminar likening the Republican Party to neo-Nazi groups is offensive and immoral, and only further divides our nation.



Teacher Union Boss to Receive $230K Taxpayer Funded Pension

June 21, 2023


Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, controls one of the most powerful teachers’ unions in America. On top of her $560,000 salaryas the union leader, she may collect an estimated $230,000 over the length of several years from a New York taxpayer-funded pension — or $15,300 per year.

This is despite only three years as a full time teacher, according to the Freedom Foundation.

Weingarten was a classroom teacher for six years, three of which were as a per diem substitute teacher. Since she left the classroom in 1997, Weingarten has been classified as on “union leave” from her teaching position, which allowed her to continue to accrue union service credit towards her pension.

Documents obtained by the Freedom Foundation show Weingarten’s public pension will be calculated as if she has worked full time as a teacher for 15 years thanks to this trick, and will be based off of a salary of $64,313, her last reported salary as a New York City teacher.

Because of this, Freedom Foundation estimates, “If she retired at age 70 and collected the pension for 15 years, her total pension benefits would amount to $230,000, not including annual cost-of-living adjustments.”

The vast majority of this pension will come from New York taxpayers, since in New York City, teachers only contribute 3% of their salary, which in Weingarten’s case would have added up to a mere $7,200.

This dishonest loophole forces taxpayers to supplement the retirement of an already handsomely-compensated individual, puts additional stress on already-fraught pension systems, and takes benefits from the thousands of hardworking teachers doing it the right way.


Throwback Thursday: DOD Spent $28K on Private Jets for Congressmen

June 22, 2023


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1984, the Department of Defense spent $28,000 – $79,000 in 2023 dollars – to shuttle nine members of Congress to and from Washington in private jets so they could vote on a defense program that ultimately failed to pass.

Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the DOD his Golden Fleece Award for this ethically questionable expenditure.

Proxmire found that in May 1984, the DOD grew nervous when it saw a close vote on the MX missile program was coming up while some of the program’s allies were not in town. The program had barely survived a prior vote, and without some of its staunchest allies, the DOD was concerned it might not pass this time.

Instead of making phone calls to members that were in town to convince them of the importance of the program, the DOD decided to scramble its fleet of executive jets and pick up sympathetic members that had left town and were scattered across the country. The flights to Washington cost about $12,000, while equivalent commercial flights for all of the members would have only cost about $1,400.

While a clever idea, the mission ultimately failed. The bill for the MX missile program failed by two votes, making the last-minute jet rides a complete waste. The somber private flights back cost $16,000, while equivalent commercial tickets would have again only cost about $1,400.

The DOD had no legal authority to provide these flights free of charge. At best, there was no legislation that prohibited the practice, but that doesn’t make it ethical.

Executive agencies have plenty of lobbyists at their disposal to try and influence members of Congress to authorize important programs. It’s inappropriate to ignore those proper channels and try to sway vote totals by wasting tax dollars on private flights.


Illinois Gives $300,000 to an Apparently Inactive BLM Group

June 23, 2023


Illinois’ most recent budget includes a $300,000 grant to Black Lives Matter Lake County, a group that critics say appears to be mainly inactive and is led by someone who has had alleged run-ins with police.

An investigation from Breakthrough Ideas, a policy advocacy and education organization, discovered the $300,000 grant in the 2024 Illinois budget.

This is not the first grant to go to BLM Lake County. The 2023 Illinois budgetincluded $250,000 to BLM Lake County, and another $125,000. Funds for both came from the American Rescue Plan Act, a pandemic era program that sent large sums of money to states and municipalities with broad discretion on how to use it.

Aside from concerns about government funding political activist groups, critics say that the BLM Lake County doesn’t appear to be an active organization anymore. Breakthrough Ideas found little social media activity from them, and no physical presence in the community, despite opening an office in Lake County in 2020. The landlord of this property allegedly filed a commercial eviction notice against them in 2022. The status of that notice is unknown.

Additionally, the head of the group, Clyde McLemore, has faced charges from law enforcement, according to press reports. In February 2021, McLemore was charged with a felony count of attempted battery of a police officer and misdemeanor disorderly conduct after allegedly kicking a door at the Kenosha Courthouse.

McLemore was acquitted of the felony battery charge but convicted of the disorderly conduct charge.

In another incident, after becoming disruptive at a Waukegan City Council meeting while out on bond for his 2021 charges, he was charged with criminal trespass in October 2022 after refusing to leave. This triggered a felony bail jumping chargefor allegedly violating conditions of his bond.

It’s important to note that citizens are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.

Illinois is facing a debt crisis thanks to exploding pension liabilities, and it could find plenty of better uses for its money than funding questionable organizations.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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