$16 muffins, $8 coffee served in Justice audit

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:05am EDT

A muffin on display at a Panera Bread Co restaurant in Chicago February 12, 2009. REUTERS/John Gress

A muffin on display at a Panera Bread Co restaurant in Chicago February 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/John Gress

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the U.S. government grapples to find ways to trim the bloated federal deficit, a new report suggests officials might start with cutting out $16 muffins and $10 cookies.

"We found the Department (of Justice) spent $16 on each of the 250 muffins served at an August 2009 legal conference in Washington," said a DOJ Office of Inspector General report released on Tuesday.

The DOJ spent $121 million on conferences in fiscal 2008 and 2009, which exceeded its own spending limits and appeared to be extravagant and wasteful, according to the report that examined 10 conferences held during that period.

The review turned up the expensive muffins, which came from the Capital Hilton Hotel just blocks from the White House, as well as cookies and brownies that cost almost $10 each.

The department spent $32 per person on snacks of Cracker Jack, popcorn, and candy bars and coffee that cost $8.24 per cup at another conference, the report said.

The DOJ also spent nearly $600,000 for event planning services for five conferences, the document said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said most of the gathering were held when there were no strict limits on food and beverage costs, adding the DOJ had taken steps since 2009 "to ensure that these problems do not occur again."

Word of the agency's extravagant spending drew a swift response from Capitol Hill.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee which has oversight of the Justice Department, said the report was a blueprint for the first cuts that should be made by the "super committee" searching for at least $1.2 trillion in savings.

"Sixteen dollar muffins and $600,000 for event planning services are what make Americans cynical about government and why they are demanding change," Grassley said in a statement. "People are outraged, and rightly so."

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (9)
mrjerrytheb wrote:
Did they ever determine where the $16 muffins and $10 cookies came from. Probably some justice department cronies’ bakery. I’m sure that if they search hard enough they can possibly find $20 muffins and $15 cookies. “Let them eat cake”. Screw the public. Who gets the stale ones? $121,000,000 can certainly buy a lot of “benefits” for the participants.

Sep 21, 2011 10:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Why am I not surprised? Having been to L.I. and NYC, that was about the going rate there.

Sep 21, 2011 11:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnotherNobody wrote:
They should force the government to buy their muffins and coffee from Walmart just like the rest of us lower-class do.

Sep 21, 2011 11:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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