Saturday, May 11, 2024

Pentagon Watchdog to Audit $50M in US Grants to Chinese Research Labs Revealed by Sen. Joni Ernst; Audit Questions Millions in Oklahoma COVID Spending. Drummond Calls for Agency Head to Resign, and other C-Virus related stories

Pentagon watchdog to audit $50M in US grants to Chinese research labs revealed by Sen. Joni Ernst:
The Pentagon’s watchdog agency will audit more than $50 million in grants the US provided to Chinese pandemic pathogens research institutions between 2014 and 2023, The Post has learned, following a pressure campaign by Sen. Joni Ernst.
The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General informed Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) that it was formally investigating the funding to Chinese research labs or other nations “designed to enhance pathogens of pandemic potential,” a letter exclusively obtained by The Post shows.
“We will keep you apprised of our progress on this reporting requirement,” the letter from Inspector General Robert P. Storch reads, referencing an amendment put by the lawmakers into the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
The audit covers any US taxpayer funding “used to fund research or experiments that could have reasonably resulted in the enhancement of any coronavirus, influenza, Nipah, Ebola, or other pathogen of pandemic potential or chimeric versions of such a virus or pathogen in the People’s Republic of China or any other foreign country” — money which Ernst accused the Pentagon of “blindly giving away.”
“The Department of Defense should defend the nation, not support research with the potential to do us harm,” she told The Post in a statement.
“While bureaucrats are blindly giving away taxpayer funds, China doesn’t even have to steal our research,” Ernst added. “It’s clear Americans deserve a detailed inventory of all the dangerous dollars sent overseas, which is why I’ve launched an investigation to track down every cent.” --->READ MORE HERE
Audit questions millions in Oklahoma COVID spending. Drummond calls for agency head to resign:
Poor oversight and loose contracting practices led to questionable spending of millions of pandemic relief funds meant to help struggling Oklahomans during COVID-19, a state audit has found.
In a report released Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office questioned how state officials spent millions of CARES Act funds and how an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit used $21 million in pandemic relief dollars, among several other concerns.
“The state is 100% responsible for following federal guidelines and ensuring any recipients or subrecipients comply with the terms of federal grants,” State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd said. “Oklahoma taxpayers could be forced to return millions of dollars to the federal government.”
Auditors also found the former head of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Shelley Zumwalt, approved $8.5 million in contract payments to a software company where her husband is vice president.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond has called for Tourism Department Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt to resign in light of recent state audit findings. (Photo by Janelle Stecklein/Oklahoma Voice)
Attorney General Gentner Drummond called for Zumwalt to resign in light of the audit report. Zumwalt is now the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation and is Gov. Kevin Stitt’s tourism secretary.
“This level of self-dealing represents an unforgivable breach of trust that disqualifies Ms. Zumwalt from overseeing the expenditure of our tax dollars,” Drummond said. “She should resign immediately and cooperate fully with my office as I seek to determine whether any Oklahoma statutes were violated.” --->READ MORE HERE
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