The Stupid Scandal That Won’t Die: Muffingate

Posted on July 16, 2012 by

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Image: CrimeDime

When the story broke it had all the ingredients of a scrumptious scandal inside the beltway. An accounting and auditing report found that the Department of Justice had paid sixteen dollars,each, for muffins provided at a conference.

What kind of muffins can you get for sixteen bucks, wondered reporters, bloggers, and pundits. It was just about the best kind of expose, short of actual sexual misconduct, that Washington can hope for. We love to hate the Feds for wasteful and self-indulgent spending, right?

Never mind that the facts were all wrong. The $16 per person expense actually was for a continental breakfast, including tax and gratuity. But retractions are ratings and credibility killers so news organizations didn’t waste any air space correcting the record. A Huffington Post blogger checked up on 178 organizations, and found that only 37 followed up on their original story.

The response from OJP, the federal office responsible for overseeing these kinds of funds was swift and severe. No muffins. Not just no muffins, but no food at all. And for some? No conferences at all, much less muffins.

It was a knee-jerk reaction to a fictional scandal in a town more image-conscious than any high-fashion runway. Even the venerable James Q. Wilson penned a scathing editorial on Muffingate shortly before his death.

The “story” was last fall. So why does this matter eight months later? OJP never came to their senses. Laurie Robinson, the official responsible for the initial hysterical response, has the left the DOJ but is still defending her handling of the scandal. Mary O’Leary, her replacement, has let the insanity go on.

And all of it hurts your community.

CrimeCents

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