Pool Parties and Golf - Your Tax Dollars at Work

With a $13 trillion debt, why is the Department of Justice spending money on parties and rollercoaster rides rather than investigating crime, drug cartels, prosecuting terrorists?

Untold millions of your tax dollars are paying for recreation in the name of crime prevention: pool parties, rollercoaster rides, and police donut-eating contests. The idea is that fun activities keep kids out of trouble, build self-esteem and prevent crime.

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports the problem is the money comes from the Department of Justice - which doesn't even have enough resources to keep up on analyzing foreign intelligence.

Now, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)has found nobody is measuring just how much is spent on the recreation - or whether it even works.

Sen.Tom Coburn, R-Okla., estimates well over $100 million tax dollars over five years has been spent on recreation to fight crime. Coburn says poor tracking leads to questionable spending. At least $200,000 was spent for officials to attend conferences at golf resorts in Florida and Palm Springs, or a film festival featuring "Santa, The Fascist Years."

Many of the grants are earmarked by Congress without the normal public review. Justice Department officials told the GAO that it makes them harder to scrutinize. So they rely on recipients to follow the rules: not all of them do.

Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens earmarked $1.7 million to a group run by a couple who were his friends. They were convicted of stealing $450,000 and spent some of it on a wedding reception for their son - who happened to work for Senator Stevens.

Just last month, an Oklahoma City program was found to have misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal crime prevention funds on things like a giant flat screen TV, 40 pairs of binoculars and $200 Japanese-style swords. Police said most of the binoculars were never used and there was "no legitimate purpose" for the swords.

Twelve other federal agencies and 99 programs fund similar community programs to keep kids out of trouble. Critics want more accountability.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.