Treasury Dept. SLAMMED for Failure to Recover Wasted TARP Funds

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Continuing a multi-year battle to save misspent taxpayer dollars, Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa on Tuesday demanded to know why the U.S. Treasury has recovered so little of the money wasted by federal officials from a housing program gone awry.

Charles Grassley/IMAGE: YouTube

Grassley long has championed the causes of federal whistleblowers and departmental Inspectors General (IGs). In this case, the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was created during the housing/financial crisis late last decade, had unearthed large levels of wrongful spending in the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), a kitty meant to directly help homeowners hurt during the crisis.

The IG found that $11 million had been spent not to help victims but instead “wasted on restaurant meals, employee gifts and a $500 per month company Mercedes.” Despite the report, the Treasury has recovered only $113,592 of the $11 million – just barely over 1 percent of the mal-spent funds.

“There should be an appropriate measure of accountability,” Grassley wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “including potential disciplinary action.”

PREVIOUSLY: Feds Don’t Require Local Public Housing Officials To Evict Criminal Fugitives

This letter continues years of efforts by Grassley to stop money from being wasted on housing programs. In 2014 he made a speech to the Senate outlining “egregious examples of how ineffective the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been at policing local housing authorities,” including an example in which the Pittsburgh Housing Authority spent $3.5 million to “pay… lawyers to defend the very organization from scrutiny about whether the taxpayer money was wasted.”

And the year before that, Grassley dogged the Atlanta Housing Authority for its “exorbitant salaries,” including one year when its director made $644,000.

Grassley began focusing on the HHF after the IG reported last year on numerous examples of waste in the program. A year ago the Obama Treasury Department answered Grassley’s inquiry with a letter that amounted to a brush-off, offering numerous assurances that the Department was monitoring funds closely.

But the IG struck again in August of this year, showing that the waste had continued despite Grassley’s warning. The IG identified many examples, saying that some were “relatively small but numerous: TARP gift cards for employees, TARP barbeques, TARP flowers, TARP gym memberships, TARP balloons—even a TARP piñata. All these unnecessary expenses violate TARP law and Treasury’s contracts. And, most importantly, it means that taxpayers are spending more than they need to on programs.”

These smaller areas of waste amounted to some $3 million. Here’s what Grassley said about that sum: “Three million dollars might sound like decimal dust to those who write big checks at the Treasury Department, but it’s a lot of money for people struggling to keep their homes.”

PREVIOUSLY: Watchdog Hides Big Fed Housing Problems While Claiming He’s Transparent

Washington, D.C. still might not be paying much attention, but Grassley’s home-state newspaper, the Messenger, took note in a Sept. 12 editorial applauding him because “he understands that much of the money federal agencies spend is an aggregation of the tax dollars paid by average Americans of modest means. Grassley understands that people work hard to earn that money and have a right to expect it will be spent honestly with wisdom and frugality.”

Several conservative interest groups give awards (none, of course, with any cash value) to congressmen who emphasize frugality; Combined with hometown applause, those awards or high ratings might be expected to give lawmakers good incentives to find savings. Alas, though, the numbers of fiscally responsible senators are shrinking. From 2015 to 2016, the Citizens Against Government Waste reported that number of “taxpayer heroes” in the Senate dropped from 36 to 32. Likewise, the National Taxpayers Union said that in 2016, only 31 of 100 senators earned ratings of “good” or better on fiscal responsibility.

Grassley was one of the 31.

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  • Yarbles

    We need big govt out of our lives.

    • Askjrsk

      We need our big money back from Obama and Hillary. Then we can pay some bills.

  • Gregg Parker

    They should have gotten all the money back what with the speech and all… I guess another good speech with some podium pounding and knit brows would boost another percent out of them!! Keep up the good work and we’ll have that money back in time for the Tricentennial party!!

  • Askjrsk

    Grassley well we will just see how effective your voice is. Either pay up or have the IRS go after these assets and funding. Hillary and Obama are for certain part of this scandal, federal funds seem to fly into their pocket. Calling Jeff Sessions!! Oh, he’s in reclusal lol.

  • IluvmyUSA

    And to think they cry about the president’s wall!! How much did we lose on Obama’s green energy policies? When will GM. pay the $ 10 billion still owed from Obama’s stimulus plan? We should have kept the $ 150 billion giveaway to Iran because that bargain was worked through the Shah of Iran and not these kooks presently running the country. Thank God we got out of that trillion dollar run away Paris agreement. But here’s where it gets really crazy. Even after saving trillions on that Paris accord there still is not enough money for the president’s wall. But, at the very mention of amnesty and sanctuary cities, those politicians become pitbulls, and you can’t find a chain to hold them. Their hypocrisy is off the scales

  • JosephSavage77

    Moral clarity has all but disappeared in Washington. Both the Repubricans and the Demorats have wasted OUR money. It’s worse than this article, as the institutions that paid back the loans, including major lenders, had the interest they paid re-directed to where? Obamacare! The Unaffordable Care Act! That’s right…it was more than just fancy spending! It was already about to implode in 2012 and was averted by Tarp fund’s repayments sent to the agencies that subsidized the socialist medical care. Why do both Demorats and old school Repubricans refuse to talk about this, or do anything about it? Because they too get pay-back for favors from big money interests! Yup! The whole system is rigged. The two main reasons there are those trying to destroy this Presidency are that they want to elect liberal judges to the supreme court that will vote against morality every time, and they want a President that can be bribed! This imperfect President has more moral clarity and loyalty to this country than most politicians ever will. The theft of OUR money by our own leaders is astronomical!

    • Teresa Barrett

      There are 120 judicial posts sitting vacant- not because TRUMP hasnt presented candidates, but because the Congress is dragging their feet in giving approval. His nominees are all excellent choices but senate confirmation is ridiculous and slow! Ana Barrett’s confirmation is being called into question by Diana Feinstein because she’s CATHOLIC! Talk about religious persecution! Just another roadblock put up for Trump to hurdle! The entire Congress makes me want to puke!!!

      • JosephSavage77

        Ditto your remark! Nancy Pelosi is Catholic (of a sort) not practicing with her stand on abortion…in my opinion. Ana Barrett has made the unfortunate mistake of being conservative and believing in life! Shame on Feinstein and Pelosi for many reasons. I don’t think either of them are very religious. I know both Feinstein and Pelosi both show up at their respective Synagogue and Church, however, going into the building and listening to a sermon but not practicing the ten commandments makes them both hypocrites, not that we all aren’t at times, but our representatives are supposed to have morality (fat chance with most of them.) Here in San Francisco there is a lot of “window dressing” going on…I see it all the time. Like Alice said to the Cheshire Cat ” I don’t want to meet mad people…” But you can’t help it. Everyone here is mad.” said the Cheshire Cat. Conservative women are not supposed to be admitted to “the club” for advancement…didn’t you know??

  • Jmanjo

    We need to take the Democrats out and their appointees and beat the crapout of them for squandering the money on crap they did not need or deserve. They were there to do a job and all they did was rob the kitty! Typical liberal crap and probably all Obama’s clan!

  • Teresa Barrett

    This TARP fiasco is just one tip of the iceberg. Chuck Schummer(a-hole supreme) just tried to add money to hurricane relief fund for….Obamacare support!!! The audacity of this jerk is disgusting! I don’t think the IRS should be tasked with looking into anything! After re-hiring those found complicit in TEA PARTY SCANDAL, they can’t be trusted with balancing a checkbook! The rampant corruption throughout the government from both parties is out of control! Trump’s election really upset the apple cart, because the days of government playing 3 card Monty with our money are over! We need to consider a complete overhaul of all the bureaucracy, and Trump is the man to get it started. Start with IRS being dismantled, or at least stripped of all their power. Next combine FBI , Treasury Department, and ATF so all 3 run more efficiently. That seems like common sense to me.

    • sweetqueen777

      Agreed. Having the IRS “look into” this debacle, is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Right. They cannot even police their OWN household. There are still employees of the IRS, who are delinquent in their own taxes. This is criminal mismanagement of Taxpayer dollars. How about some CRIMINAL charges for those involved in this Embezzelment scheme?

  • Karl

    This TARP fiasco is just one tip of the iceberg. Chuck Schummer(a-hole supreme) just tried to add money to hurricane relief fund for….Obamacare support!!! The audacity of this jerk is disgusting! I don’t think the IRS should be tasked with looking into anything! After re-hiring those found complicit in TEA PARTY SCANDAL, they can’t be trusted with balancing a checkbook! The rampant corruption throughout the government from both parties is out of control! Trump’s election really upset the apple cart, because the days of government playing 3 card Monty with our money are over! We need to consider a complete overhaul of all the bureaucracy, and Trump is the man to get it started. Start with IRS being dismantled, or at least stripped of all their power. Next combine FBI , Treasury Department, and ATF so all 3 run more efficiently. That seems like common sense to me.

    • Teresa Barrett

      I think this is my post which was mistakenly put under Karl. Just an FYI to the readers

  • 9400budlang8406

    Awwww who cares, it’s only a few million bucks. Happens all the time and congress has yet to change spending habits. And oversight is an “after” thought. After its spent forget it. Congress is addicted to our tax dollars and that will not change.

  • Al Zabel

    Why aren’t they investigating, where Hillary lost 6 BILLION dollar, at the State Department?
    What? Does she get a free pass here?
    It really is time, to “drain the swamp.”