June 9, 2008

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The good news is, Bush's Justice Department offers grants to community programs to address juvenile crime nationwide. The bad news is, Bush's Justice Department seems to award the grants based on political connections, not merit.

There's a program in San Diego, for example, that was ranked #2 by the DoJ in its category of prevention and intervention. It didn't get any funding. But the program that was ranked #47 did -- because it had connections. Our friend Murray Waas and ABC News have the story:

A senior Justice Department official says a $500,000 federal grant to the World Golf Foundation is an appropriate use of money designed to deal with juvenile crime in America.

"We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids, golf is the hook," said J. Robert Flores, the administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The Justice Department, in a decision by Flores, gave the money to the World Golf Foundation's First Tee program, even though Justice Department staffers had rated the program 47th on a list of 104 applicants. The allegations were first reported earlier this year by the trade journal Youth Today.

Wouldn't you know it, the honorary chairman of the First Tee program is former President George Bush.

Scott Peterson, who worked in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, said grants were awarded based more on politics than merit. "This is cronyism, this is waste, fraud and abuse," Peterson told ABC News, adding, "It's a lot of our taxpayer money that's supposed to go for some of our most vulnerable children."

It's quite a report. Read the whole thing.

Murray Waas has more about this on his brand new C&L site.

Murray is the lead investigative reporter on this story featured by ABC.

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