Justice watchdog questions use of security funds for 2012 Democratic, GOP conventions


North Carolina delegates applaud during a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (Lucian Perkins/ For The Washington Post).

Federal auditors found inappropriate uses for some of the $100 million Congress dedicated to security for the 2012 Democratic and Republican national conventions in Charlotte and Tampa, according to two new watchdog reports.

The Justice Department inspector general’s office questioned costs related to vehicle purchases and overtime pay for the presidential nominating events. DOJ dispersed roughly $50 million apiece to both of the cities to help them bolster security for the gatherings.

A report on the GOP convention said Tampa allowed its mayor to use a grant-funded SUV, even though the money was intended strictly for criminal-justice purposes. Auditors found the truck parked in the mayor’s reserved parking space and observed him entering and exiting the vehicle.

A sport-utility vehicle purchased with federal funds sits in the Tampa mayor's reserved parking space. (Photo courtesy of DOJ OIG.)
An SUV purchased with federal funds sits in the Tampa mayor’s reserved parking space. (Justice Department)

The inspector general’s office also determined that DOJ reimbursed the city of Tampa for $25,000 in labor costs that were “not adequately supported or [were] unallowable under the terms and conditions of the grants.”

A separate report on the Democratic convention said the city of Charlotte incorrectly certified it had modified two SUVs in line with DOJ requirements for funding, which amounted to $54,000 for the automobiles. The department also reimbursed Charlotte for $79,000 in unallowable labor costs, according to the findings.

Despite questioning some of the security expenditures, the reports noted that both cities “generally claimed costs in accordance with grant requirements.”

However, the inspector general recommended that DOJ remedy the unsupported labor expenditures and vehicle costs and ensure that the cities only use the property they purchased with grant funding for criminal-justice purposes.

The Justice Department has agreed with the recommendations and to work with the cities to enact them.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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