Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 84 111_wotd_wk_84

September 23, 2022 12:50 PM




Another $1M U.S. Grant for Backer of Wuhan Lab

September 19, 2022


EcoHealth Alliance, a group whose risky bat coronavirus research with a Chinese lab has stirred controversy, collected a new, $1 million grant from the United States’ National Science Foundation to predict and prevent future pandemics, The National Pulse reported.

The research group will partner with Boston University to “strategize methods of early infectious disease detection and intervention,” according to the grant announcement on EcoHealth’s website.

“EHA researchers will focus on predictive models of location and likely pathogens,” the organization’s announcement said. “This will be accomplished by first compiling a list of mutagenic RNA viruses with a high risk of spillover based on their ability to spread, cause outbreak, and cause severe illness. Next, the team will identify locations at risk of spillover and localized spread by assembling a list of animals known to host one or more of the focal viruses.”

The new grant came after Peter Daszak, head of EcoHealth Alliance, has been accused of helping to spark the Covid-19 pandemic with his organization’s pandemic prevention work, Science magazine reported. He has downplayed the possibility of the virus originating in a lab as opposed to nature.

It was his organization that received $3.7 million over 5 years from the U.S. National Institutes of Health “to find and study bat coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV, which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the disease that nearly triggered a pandemic in 2003,” the magazine reported.

EcoHealth had sent about 16 percent — almost $600,000 — to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Together, they "conducted an experiment in which they created a hybrid virus from a bat coronavirus," The Intercept reported in an article about the lab-leak theory “looking stronger by the day.”

Shortly after the NIH grant to EcoHealth was discovered, then-President Donald Trump ordered the grant canceled.

Why is that same research group getting another $1 million grant from taxpayers to do more pandemic research?



MS Raided Welfare Fund of $70M for Former Athletes, More

September 20, 2022


Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, spent $70 million from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare funds on multimillionaire athlete Brett Favre, a professional wrestler, a horse farm and a volleyball complex, according to NBC News.

Mississippi has the highest child poverty rate, with 27.9 percent of its under-18 population meeting federal poverty guidelines. It has an 18.8 percent poverty rate, and its median household income of $44,966 is far below the country’s average at $67,521.

Yet the nation's poorest state used welfare money to pay Brett Favre for speeches he never made. The former football player returned the $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 he was given to make motivational speeches.

Favre hasn’t been accused of a crime or charged, as parallel state and federal criminal investigations have led to charges and guilty pleas by others.

Now, the Mississippi state auditor Shad White is asking why federal welfare funds intended for needy families were spent on Favre, a volleyball complex, a horse farm, and a former pro wrestler.

Brad Pigott was hired to try to recover some of the welfare money and was fired after he issued a subpoena seeking more information about the roles of Favre and former Gov. Phil Bryant, NBC News reported.

Before he was fired, Pigott sued on behalf of Mississippi’s welfare agency and named Favre and 37 other grant recipients, blaming Mississippi politicians, including Bryant, who gave tens of millions of dollars of the TANF welfare money — from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ­— to a non-profit.

“A nonprofit led by a person who he knew well and who had more connections with his political party than with the good people in Mississippi who have the heart and the skills to actually cajole people out of poverty or prevent teenage pregnancies,” he said.

The nonprofit was run by Nancy New, a close friend of Bryant’s wife, NBC News reported. New and her son pleaded guilty to state and federal charges and agreed to cooperate, saying in a court document that Bryant was among those involved in directing the transactions.

That’s only the beginning of what looks like people in charge treating taxpayer funds as their own party fund.



NASA’s $93B Artemis Moon Project Price Tag Is ‘Unsustainable’

September 21, 2022


While average Americans are excited the United States is planning to send people back to the moon through NASA’s Artemis project, the space agency’s inspector general said the cost is “unsustainable,” Fox News reported.

NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin predicted that the first four missions will cost $4.1 billion each and told Congress that price "strikes us as unsustainable."

He projected that by 2025, NASA will have spent $93 billion on the Artemis lunar program.

The price tag is far more than the space agency’s lunar program was projected to cost a decade ago, CNBC reported.

In 2012, NASA officials estimated each mission would cost about $500 million, with the first rocket shooting off in 2017. Now, the cost has increased eightfold, according to the NASA auditor.

Artemis I was originally scheduled to take off the last week of August but weather and hardware concerns postponed the launch.

NASA engineers had been unable to get the engines to the proper temperature range required to start them at liftoff, Fox News reported.

Launch controllers also had to deal with storms in the area that delayed propellant loading operations, as well as “a leak at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line used to fill and drain core stage liquid hydrogen and a hydrogen leak from a valve used to vent the propellant from the core stage intertank,” Fox News reported.



Throwback Thursday: Crepe Paper Dropping Artist Gets Grant

September 22, 2022


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1977, Sen. William Proxmire gave the National Endowment for the Arts a Golden Fleece Award for spending $6,025 — $29,456 in 2022 dollars — for an artist to film the throwing of crepe paper and burning gases out of an airplane.

Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.

In this instance, the National Endowment for the Arts received the award for a grant given “to document on film an event designed to alter an audience’s immediate environment for a short period of time,” Proxmire quoted the endowment’s chair, Nancy Hanks, as saying.

The senator described the artistic endeavor as having an altered immediate environment for the audience “when four, one-mile long, 20-inch wide crepe paper rolls were thrown out of two small planes flying over El Paso, Texas. The crepe paper rolls were accompanied by two sky divers, who reeled out the crepe paper as they (the paper and sky divers) fell to the ground. Another taxpayer-sponsored drop involved a team of skydivers parachuting down to earth in Pennsylvania wearing backpack of glowing gases.”

From the grant, $1,424 — $7,414 in 2022 dollars — was spent on air fare and lodging for the artist and her husband, who served as a cameraman, for a week’s stay in February 1976 on the Caribbean Island of St. Maarten. The artist explained it was necessary to go to the excusive island to film one of the environments that had influenced her development as an artist.

Another $1,713 — $8,919 on 2022 dollars — was spent on travel expenses in August 1976, including air fare, meals, car rental, and airport parking in the southwest for the artist, her cameraman husband, a skydiver, and two of her children, who were ground crew assigned to collect the dropped crepe paper.

The 20-minute movie created by this project “contains only brief glimpses of the crepe paper and light drops,” Proxmire said. “Much of the film shows various scenes of the artist posing in St. Maarten.”

He said the film only made its way to the Endowment after his staff asked to see it.

“While I strongly support the idea of free expression by all creative artists and believe that the crepe paper dropping artist sincerely believes in the importance of her work, I see no reason for the federal government to support these activities,” the senator said.


Upstate NY Police Chief Out Earns Highest Paid Governor

September 23, 2022


When police Chief Raymond McCullagh retired as head of the police department in Clarkstown, NY in April 2021, he made $292,228.

That’s more than the $225,000 New York Gov. Kathy Hochul makes as the highest paid governor in the country.

McCullagh’s salary is according to the payroll records for Town of Clarkstown in upstate Rockland County, with a population of 86,000.

The acting police chief, Jeffrey Wanamaker, made $275,109 in 2021 as police captain, according to the payroll records. That also exceeds the New York governor's salary.

The average 2021 pay in the 162-member police department was $152,557. Including McCullagh and Wanamaker, eight police made over $200,000 in 2021.

Then-chief Peter Noonan made news in 2010 with his $301,000 salary. At the time, he was the highest paid municipal employee in all of New York State.

Clarkstown isn’t exactly a hotbed of violent crime. It has been rated one of the safest towns in America, and Noonan's salary dwarfed that of then-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who earned around $200,000.

Noonan’s police force was 170 officers for about 84,000 residents, while Kelly commanded about 35,000 officers for more than 8 million residents.

Currently, NYPD officers get a starting pay of $42,500, with salary jumping to $85,292 after 5 ½ years. In NYC, police not only die fighting actual violent crime, but are targeted and killed as victims themselves time and time again.

That’s far from the picture painted of Clarkstown. That’s great for the people who live there and the police that patrol there.

But in a town with as little crime as there is, the town’s long history of high-paid police should come to an end.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at


Back to news
Sign the Petition