A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples of taxpayer-funded purchases include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.
Source: Government Accountability Office, Government-wide Purchase Cards: Actions Needed to Strengthen Internal Controls to Reduce Fraudulent, Improper, and Abusive Purchases, GAO-08-333, March 2008, at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08333.pdf
new.items/d08333.pdf (October 5, 2009); Marc Stewart, “Federal Gov’t Questions TVA Spending,” WBIR.com, February 27, 2009, at http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=79461 (October 5, 2009); Dan Eggen, “Federal Credit Cards Misused,” TheWashington Post, April 9, 2008, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04
/08/AR2008040802718.html (October 5, 2009).