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Watchdog: Follow the Money

What the U.S. Marshals Service spent millions on may surprise you

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Watchdog,Kelly Cohen,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money,Law Enforcement,FOIA

What do poker chips, golf towels and teddy bears have in common?

All of these items — and more — were purchased by the U.S. Marshals Service as "swag" items, according to documents received by MuckRock.com.

After the Justice Department inspector general released a report last November criticizing the Marshals Service for spending nearly $800,000 on such items, MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

The 173 pages of documents show a full itemized list of the Marshals Service's "swag" purchases before agency reforms around 2011 — that's nearly $2 million spent by the agency's national office and 90 of its 94 district offices nationwide.

The Nebraska office, for example, spent more than $1,200 over three years on golf balls, golf towels and divot tools featuring the Marshals Service's insignia or name.

Three branches of the Marshals Service in Texas spent a combined $133,000 on t-shirts, ties, pillows and Christmas ornaments between 2009 and 2012, the documents show.

In Massachusetts, more than $3,000 went to yo-yos, mini footballs, mini soccer balls and stress balls shaped like police cars.

In last year's IG report, the auditors called the expenses “excessive and, in some instances, in contravention of department policies and Government Accountability Office decisions and guidance.”

The swag — known as "gifts" to GAO — existed to "promote reciprocal respect, goodwill, and cooperation between a federal agency and its state or local level counterparts."

View all of the documents here.

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Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner

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