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OUCH: Central Alabama VA called out in study of most outlandish government spending — twice!

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduces his annual Wastebook.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduces his annual Wastebook.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is retiring this year, and that’s a shame for plenty of reasons, not the least of which is that his office will no longer publish his yearly — and now legendary — “Wastebook,” an annual look at the U.S. federal government’s most outlandish expenditures.

“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” said Sen. Coburn. “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.”

This year’s Wastebook includes such highlights as:

• Coast guard party patrols – $100,000
• Watching grass grow – $10,000
• State department tweets @ terrorists – $3 million
• Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000
• Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million
• Mountain lions on a treadmill – $856,000
• Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys – $50,000
• Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition – $1 billion
• Scientists hope monkey gambling unlocks secrets of free will – $171,000
• Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax free – $10 million
• Studying “hangry” spouses stabbing voodoo dolls – $331,000
• Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million

In all, the 2014 Wastebook highlights $25 billion in Washington’s worst spending and reveals the year’s “100 most outlandish government expenditures.”

Two of the top 100 — actually two of the top 10 — took place right here in the Yellowhammer State.

Coming in at No. 5, “VA employee hooks up patient being treated for addiction with drugs and prostitute.”

A VA drug addiction treatment specialist busted for taking a patient to a crack house to help him score illegal drugs and solicit a prostitute was also found “guilty of patient abuse, misuse of government vehicles, filing false overtime requests and multiple ethics violations” is still employed at Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System. The initial incident occurred in March 1, 2013 according to a VA investigative report that concluded the employee “interfered” with the patient’s “medical treatment plan” and “endorsed” his addictions, and exposed him to a “dangerous environment.”

And not far behind at No. 7, “Administrators overlooked pandemonium in scandal plagued office.”

After a seemingly never ending list of scandals, the director and chief of staff of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System were placed on paid administrative leave in August 2014. The problems include falsifying “appointment records to mask how long veterans wait for appointments and not reading hundreds of X-rays. Employees at the center have also been accused of taking a patient being treated for addiction to a crack house to buy drugs,” sexually abusing a female patient, and causing a fatal car crash as a result of driving drunk. The Director, James Talton, had implied that “all employees involved in the falsification were terminated,” when they were instead “relieved of their duties” while continuing to be paid employees of the VA.

Several of the Central Alabama VA issues mentioned in the Wastebook have now been resolved or are in the process of being resolved, but it really puts the absurdity of the scandals in perspective when you realize they outranked things like “Voicemails From the Future Warn of Post Apocalyptic World” and “Facebook for Fossil Enthusiasts” on the most egregious government spending of the year.

You can check out the full 2014 Wastebook here, along with a short video about it below.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims