Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) today took up in her Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight what she calls one of the worst scandals in the history of the Army. She says tens of millions of dollars has been siphoned out of the Army budget in a Recuriting Assistance Program scam.
She says the scams included more than 3,000 soldiers taking credit for signing up recruits who had already enlisted, totalling more than $1 million in bogus bonuses.
“We’re talking about the kind of control that someone was going to join anyway and someone made five grand off of them joining — that’s the fraud,” she said. “This is what kills me about this you guys, this like basic, you just assumed whoever was typing in the information was telling the truth, and nobody ever checked to see if they were lying. I mean, you’re handing out millions of dollars … and no one ever asked.”
McCaskill criticizes Army officials for waiting for years to notice a suspicious pattern, and says it will take another two years for all of the payments to be reviewed.
The scandal has reached the highest levels of the National Guard, including two two-star generals and 18 colonels. While the contract states that prison could be a consequence of providing false information, none has been imprisoned, lost benefits or resigned. Sixteen other people are serving time.
“It’s going to break my heart if a lot of people get away with this,” McCaskill says.
McCaskill says tens of millions of dollars paid out in bonuses is suspect and still needs to be reviewed, a process she expects won’t be completed until at least the fall of 2016 because of the backlog. She’s calling it the biggest scandal to involve the U.S. Army in its history.
Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Army’s top law enforcement officer, says staff had followed up with phone calls once problems were discovered. McCaskill told him that wasn’t good enough.
“This is discouraging and depressing,” McCaskill said in an interview. “Clearly, we’re talking about one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army.”
AUDIO: Listen to part of the hearing (17:42)