These are gorgeous muffins, but it's probably safe to say that they didn't cost $16 a pop. Unless they were served and eaten by the Department of Justice, that is. According to CBS News, a report issued Tuesday by the Justice Department's inspector general discovered “excessive spending” on food and beverages in ten DOJ conferences. The audit found that in those ten conferences, the department spent $490K on food and drink.

The sticker shock comes, as is so often the case with government spending, in the details. $16 spent on individual muffins. $32 per person on candy and other snacks. $8.24 for a cup of coffee. $5 for a single Swedish meatball.

In 2008 and 2009, the DOJ hosted or participated in 1,832 conferences at a cost of $121 million. Do the math. So the upshot of this? The DOJ agreed with its own inspector general's recommendations to be more careful about overspending. Which of course should solve the problem.

On a separate but related note, if you had almost half a million bucks of taxpayer money to blow on food, wouldn't you at least order something other than blueberry muffins and candy? Is the DOJ run by hungry 10 year-olds raiding the hotel mini-bar? It's Washington: José Andrés makes some pretty good food in that town. In fact, the man has a whole restaurant-within-a-restaurant called minibar. I bet for $490K, they'd deliver. And it would say “minibar” on all the receipts, which would probably buy some time before the next wrist-slapping audit.

LA Weekly