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Federal legal aid program misusing funds to cover luxury expenses: report

[JURIST] Legal Services Corp. [official website; ABA backgrounder], a government-funded non-profit corporation that provides legal assistance to indigent Americans, has been using funds to provide luxuries for its board members and executives, AP reported Monday. The corporation turns away about half of all applicants due to lack of monetary resources, yet agency documents obtained by AP show that federal funding has recently been used for expensive meals, hired drivers, and conferences at the Melrose Hotel located minutes from the corporation's Georgetown headquarters. The expenditures did not all go unchallenged, however: Legal Services Corp. comptroller David Richardson suggested in one internal memo that the $400-plus personal driver expenses incurred by board chairman Frank Strickland [official profile] were excessive.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) [official profile], US Senate Finance Committee [official website] chairman, has stated that if the corporation does not curb its "waste and abuse," future federal funding will be withheld. The White House has already targeted the LSC for cutbacks and Grassley and other conservative Republican lawmakers have long criticized it [1995 Republican Policy Committee report, PDF] for alleged political bias. AP has more.

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