Senator's Report Says Millions Wasted At Department Of Homeland Security

Wednesday, December 5th 2012, 10:46 pm
By: Tess Maune

An Oklahoma Senator is exposing Department of Homeland Security spending, saying one of its grant programs is making our nation less secure.

Senator Tom Coburn's camp spent the past year looking into grant programs meant to help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

An oversight report was release Wednesday, which says $35 billion has been spent in the past nine years. Coburn says millions are being wasted, including a $150,000 purchase at the Tulsa County jail.

12/4/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn Signs No Budget, No Pay Act

A camera system is now monitoring the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center and security barriers are in place, all thanks to The Urban Area Security Initiative.

"We filled out all the proper forms, we sent it to Washington, DC, where it was stamped, "approved;" therefore we got the money," said Chief Rick Weigel, with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

Tulsa was added by the Department of Homeland Security as a "high-risk area" for terrorist activity back in 2009 and 2010.

The designation, Weigel said, was based off research by the federal government.

Weigel said the security upgrades to the jail were approved as critical by the Department of Homeland Security.

"We also house extremely high profile prisoners there. The public probably does not have any idea of some of the inmates we house over there. Some are on a restricted classification," Weigel said.

The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) is responsible for distributing those grants, and Deputy Director Ann Domin said Tulsa County spent its $3.4 million responsibly.

"We were adamant that we would not leave money on the table, but we were also committed to making sure the funds were spent in a way that was according to our plan and our strategy," Domin said.

But with our national debt at $16 trillion, Senator Tom Coburn says now is not the time for wasteful spending.

The report listed a number of other Homeland Security projects including a Zombie Apocalypse Training Summit in California.

Coburn says spending money on low-priority projects and in low-risk areas makes our nation less secure.

Coburn's report says The Urban Area Security Initiative has received $7.1 billion in federal funding since 2003.

Tulsa County also bought a color printer with their grant money.

Coburn's report says central Oklahoma officials asked others to provide broad descriptions for projects, so they would cover anything that might need to be funded.

Tulsa has since been removed from that "high-risk" area list.