By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A program that preserves culture in other countries is getting more funding. The State Department approved $5.4 million in 2011 spending for the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
"This is just typical Washington. Washington spending is tone deaf to the American people," said Congressman James Lankford, (R) Oklahoma.
Lankford had hoped the State Department would cut the program, itself. This year's awards include $450,000 for conservation of a temple in Cambodia, $700,000 for conservation of the ruins of a 9th century city in Tanzania and $100,000 to document endangered musical traditions in Mali.
A spokesperson from the State Department tells us cultural preservation offers an opportunity to show a positive American face to other countries, one that is non-commercial, non-political, and non-military.
Congressman Lankford says it's a waste of money.
"The reason we have a foreign policy and the reason we spend money in other places is for our national security, that's what we're supposed to be accomplishing. This is obviously not national security," said Lankford.
We told Congressman James Lankford about this program, when we started our investigation two months ago. He didn't know about it, until I brought it to his attention. Now, he has a plan to get rid of it. He'll add an amendment to the foreign appropriations bill that'll come up this fall. The amendment will cut the program, altogether.
"No one can justify this at how we can't afford to pay our own bills yet, we're paying for a pottery display in another country. It makes no sense," said Lankford.