J. Robert Flores, a senior Bush-appointed Justice Department official, breached ethics rules by accepting a free round of golf from a grant applicant, awarded tens of millions of dollars in grant money to low-ranking programs, and circumvented federal regulations to hire a consultant to work on faith-based issues, says a Justice Department Office of the Inspector General report quoted by ABC News. “What took place was an utter disregard for the extraordinary adults and hundreds and hundreds of youth serving agencies who applied for these federal grants to improve the lives of these abused and molested children and youth who were victimized,” said Scott Peterson, a former staffer of the agency, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
ABC’s Nightline program raised questions about Flores last June. He awarded hundreds of thousands and in one case over $1 million to programs that ranked towards the bottom of the applicant pool — which often aligned with his personal interests and ideological convictions, leaving many of the top ranked grant seeking programs with nothing. Peterson believes Flores gave one grant to a golf program ranked low by expert reviewers because he likes to play the game. “Flores would golf during the day while on official travel around the country on tax payer funds,” said Peterson. Flores violated federal ethics rules by accepting a $157 round of golf from a grantee. Flores paid the money back two years later, one day before he was called to testify at a congressional hearing probing his office’s grant-giving practices.