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Lawmakers Want More Than 'Half-Hearted' Response to Travel Card Use at Casinos, Strip Clubs

Defense Department watchdog reported 900 transactions from adult clubs and warned of security vulnerabilities.

A bipartisan group of six House members has written to Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanding more than a “half-hearted” response from the Pentagon’s financial systems managers following a recent watchdog report showing continued use of government travel cards at casinos and strip clubs.

The Defense Department inspector general’s review of 30 cases of potential travel card abuse totaling $952,258 last year found that managers “did not take appropriate action when notified.” Even though many of the abusers repay the government for personal visits to entertainment emporiums during official travel, the report said, “DoD management did not consistently consider the security implications of improper personal use of the travel card.”

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, wrote that “the department has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse of the government travel cards, initiated reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains susceptible to continued waste and exploitation.”

Also signing were Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.; Seth Moulton, D-Mass; and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

“The report findings also suggest the department still maintains insufficient processes to address the problem: insufficient instruction on the appropriate use of the government travel card; improper reimbursements for personal expenses; and a tepid response from DoD management to correct these issues,” the House members wrote. “Most troubling is that the most recent audit was conducted as a response to a previous report on DoD misuse of government travel cards released in 2015.”

In light of the department’s “half-hearted response” to the audit, the lawmakers wrote, “We request a response on how the department intends to implement the DoD IG’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the department’s progress.”