U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that the Senate has unanimously accepted an amendment to the 2008 CJS spending bill that will address questions raised in a September 2007 Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General report, which stated that the agency may be misusing federal taxpayer funds to hold lavish conferences and events. Senator Shelby cosponsored the amendment with Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).
“The Inspector General’s report raises serious questions about the Department of Justice’s excessive conference expenses,” said Shelby. “Movie-themed parties, butterfly shrimp, coconut lobster skewers and $5.00 Swedish meatballs do not aid in the elimination of sexual predators and terrorists from our streets. I am proud to join Senator Mikulski in supporting an amendment that will require the Department to reevaluate the importance of spending tax dollars on these extravagant events.”
The amendment requires DOJ to notify the Inspector General of any conference costs exceeding $20,000 and to demonstrate what changes the Department will make to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations.
Among its findings, the Inspector General reported that the DOJ spent a total of $81 million on conferences from October 2004 to September 2006. Staff at the DOJ also did not have an internal system to account for money spent on conferences and events.