MuffinGate: DOJ Spends $16 Per Muffin for Conference

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Sep 22, 2011 7:37 AM

It seems as though employees of the Justice Department have expensive tastes, but does a $16 dollar muffin really taste that much better than a $2 muffin? Apparently when taxpayers foot the bill, the cost of muffins, or anything else for that matter, is irrelevant.

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.

That's a total of $4000 in muffins, for one conference.

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 Jacks, 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 gatherings 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."