US Defense Department Ash Carter gambling strip clubs

The US Defense Department spent more than $1 million at casinos and strip clubs in 2015, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is focusing on more important issues. (Image: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The US Defense Department (DoD) is in hot water this week after the Office of the Inspector General (IG) published its investigation into whether the agency took appropriate action after it was revealed over $1 million was spent on casino gambling and adult entertainment in 2015.

The IG concluded that the DoD failed to discipline any of its agents who used government money at casinos and strip clubs. It also found that the DoD didn’t implement any regulatory safeguards to prevent the continued misuse of funds.

In May of 2015, the IG said defense employees used government charge cards to expense 4,437 transactions at casinos totaling $952,258. An additional 900 transactions costing the American taxpayer $96,576 was spent at adult entertainment venues.

Now 14 months later, the IG says the Department of Defense continues to fail in performing adequate audits and reviews of personnel credit accounts.

“DoD management did not perform reviews or performed inadequate reviews of cardholders when notified that cardholders potentially misused their travel card at casinos and adult entertainment establishments,” the IG concluded. “DoD experienced potential national security vulnerabilities due to the lack of adjudication for cardholders with possible security concerns including, extensive travel card misuse, questionable judgment, the decision not to follow rules and guidance, financial concerns, or gambling addictions.”

Specific casinos were not named.

The IG made several recommendations to the DoD in the report including reporting travel card misuse to the appropriate military branch and doing so in a timely manner.

Gambling on Credit

The best kind of gambling is when you’re doing it on someone else’s dime. The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force all violated the state-issued travel card guidelines.

The only branch of the US Armed Forces that wasn’t named in the IG report was the Coast Guard.

Officially known as the Government Travel Charge Card (GTCC), the program is available to qualified official government personnel for use when on official travel. According to the DoD website, use of the card for non-official business “is considered misuse and is subject to administrative and/or disciplinary action.”

But no disciplinary action was taken and no oversight changes were made. That’s apparently because the DoD sees $1,048,834 as nothing more than a drop in its fiscal bucket.

“Although we concur with the recommendations, I believe it is important to note that the monetary amount of the personal use of the Government Travel Charge Card identified in the audit amounted to less than 0.04 percent of the total travel card spend and less than 0.03 percent of total transaction volume for the period covered by the audit,” Defense Assistant Secretary AM Kurta said.

Governmental Affairs

The DoD isn’t alone in finding itself tangled in a risqué scandal. In 2012, the US Secret Service was accused of visiting a strip club and paying for sexual favors in El Salvador while supposedly protecting President Barack Obama.

And last fall an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives withdrew cash from his government-issued credit card and gambled while on-duty. The unidentified agent has since been promoted to special agent in charge.