Friday, August 17, 2012

And the corrupt are being taken down one by one .. Lavish hotel suites in Bermuda, government vehicles to run errands and bags of Snickers bars

A four-star general used military vehicles to take his wife on shopping trips, billed the government for stays in lavish hotels and accepted Broadway tickets from a 'prohibited source' with defense contracts, an investigation has found.

Gen. William 'Kip' Ward, the former head of the U.S. Africa Command, faces demotion in light of the investigation into his excessive unauthorised spending by the Department of Defense.

A 99-page report details his plush lifestyle at the expense of taxpayers, which came despite repeated warnings by officials that his spending was not above board.

It gives a startling insight into his extravagant unapproved expenses, including stays at five-star hotels for extended trips and the use of official vehicles to pick up snacks.

Many of Ward’s 79 official trips to Europe, Africa or across the United States involved extracurricular or personal excursions at the taxpayer's expense, the records show.

On one trip to Germany, where Africa Command is based, Ward, his wife and staff stayed in Bermuda for a refueling stop - where the couple stayed in a $750 suite and billed it to the government.
His staff travelled to Bermuda ahead of his arrival; in total, the cost of their rooms came to more than $10,000, without meals or transportation.

Ward, 63, defended the layover as a 'crew stop' and blamed his staff for the decision to stay, the report notes.

On another occasion in June 2010, Ward and his wife Joyce accepted dinner and Broadway show tickets from a 'prohibited source' with over $4 million in military contracts.

He attended Fences with his wife and the contractor and his family, before going backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington.

The couple and several staff members then spent the night at the five-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

While the total amount of spending by Gen. Ward while he was the head of U.S. Africa Command has not been released, it includes:

- $129,000 on an 11-day trip to Washington with his wife and 13 staff where he only had short engagements on the first three days of the trip. The cost covers the hotel and 'other' costs such as transportation
- $10,000 on hotels rooms for himself and staff during a 'refueling stop' in Bermuda on the way to an engagement in Germany. He and his wife stayed in a $750 suite. The bill does not include transport or other costs
- $18,500 on producing and publishing 2,000 books about the Command's plush residence in Germany and its first three years of work
- One staffer stayed in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in McLean, Virginia for 49 consecutive nights in early 2010 - even though Ward was in the area for just 18 of the nights
- Use of government-rented vehicles to run errands including collecting flowers, books, football game tickets and snacks
- Dinner and a Broadway show - paid for by a government contractor - before meeting Denzel Washington and staying in the five-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel
- Wife joined him on 52 of his 79 trips even though she had no official capacity
- Ward also set officials meetings after being refused the use of military aircraft for personal travel

When he was asked to explain the business conducted with the contractor, Ward said vaguely: 'We could have talked about being an effective leader, some of my lessons learned, some of my anecdotes, some of the things I have done as a leader.'

It also details how Ward used five-vehicle motorcades when he travelled to Washington, and how he and his wife used government-rented cars to pick up flowers, books, snacks and football game tickets.

She also used the vehicles to visit a department store and a spa.

His wife's presence throughout the report is also noteworthy; Ward insisted on her traveling with him even though she did not perform any official duties and it was not authorised.

In fact, the reports notes she joined the general on a staggering 52 of the 79 trips they investigated.
On one occasion, he asked to use military aircraft for a personal trip but it was denied, so he abruptly changed the trip to an official one by adding a quick meeting.

In another case, during an 11-day trip to Washington, his official duties were a visit to see wounded soldiers, a 90-minute meeting and a State Department meeting, yet he billed the government more than $129,000 to cover the hotel and other costs for him, his wife and 13 staff.

The report also notes how his wife asked a staffer to buy her a bag of 'dark chocolate Snickers' bars and that the general would give 'a couple of dollars' for it.

'We conclude Gen. Ward engaged in multiple forms of misconduct related to official and unofficial travel,' the inspector general's report said.

It added that he misused military aircraft, his position and staff time, and he often received reimbursement far exceeding the approved military rate.

I wonder how much they spent to create this 99 report on this crooked fella?

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