Fri August 17, 2012
Snickers And 5-Star Hotels: Report Details Top General's Wasteful Spending
A report made public today by the Department of Defense finally gives us details on what caused the downfall of Four-Star Gen. William "Kip" Ward.
More than a year ago, Ward gave up his post as leader of U.S. Africa Command and Stars and Stripes reported in May that he would be stripped of two of his stars, pending an investigation. But the reasons why were kept quiet, as Stars And Stripes reported.
Today, the Department of Defense sheds some light with a report, obtained by Danger Room and the AP, in which the department's Inspector General says Ward misused government funds and government vehicles. The 90-page report spans everything from 5-star hotels, to the printing of self-published books and the gifting of Broadway tickets.
"According to the report, acquired by Danger Room through a Freedom of Information Act request, many of Ward's 79 official trips to Europe, Africa or the United States involved extracurricular or personal excursions at taxpayer expense. The report also portrays him as profligate and self-promotional: Ward "wasted Government funds" by printing a book glorifying his palatial Stuttgart residence, known as the Clay Haus.
"Yet Ward is not accused of performing his military tasks improperly. The inspector general did not question his competence as a general. Instead, the report that effectively ended Ward's career in disgrace — rare for a senior officer — finds Ward kept bad official records of his travel expenses and extended trips funded by taxpayer money for personal reasons."
The AP reports on some of the findings:
-- Ward charged the government "for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite, a Defense Department investigation has found."
-- During an 11-day trip to Washington, he billed the government $129,000 in expenses for himself, his wife and 13 civilian employees. He conducted official business two of those day.
-- He accepted dinner and Broadway tickets from a government contractor.
-- He OK'd the printing of 1,000 "copies of a hardbound book Africa Command: The First Three Years..." That along with 1,000 copies of a booklet titled The Clay Haus, cost the government $18,500.
-- The AP reports: " In one case, his request to use military aircraft for a personal trip was denied, so he abruptly changed the trip to an official one, adding a quick meeting, and went anyway. In numerous other cases, he and his wife used staff and government-rented cars to run errands, pick up flowers, books, snacks and event tickets."
-- In one incident, his wife asked a staff member to buy her a bag of "dark chocolate Snickers" and that the general would provide "couple of dollars" for it.