You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Fish on a treadmill and other government waste, according to Sen. Flake

Sen. Jeff Flake highlights 50 examples of questionable, even frivolous federal spending in the latest edition of his government wastebook.

Flake calls the latest volume "Wastebook: PORKemon Go." All told, the Arizona Republican's office says it details more than $5 billion in inappropriate spending by federal departments and agencies.

"Government boondoggles come in all shapes and sizes and pop up just about everywhere," said Flake. "Hopefully this report will be a guide to catch egregious spending lurking in the federal budget."

Flake has long been among the most vocal of fiscal conservatives, having had a reputation in the House for offering amendments targeting individual earmarks from members of the House Appropriations Committee, back when congressionally-directed spending was still in popular practice.

His pattern of public shaming continues a Senate tradition going back at least to the late Wisconsin Democrat William Proxmire's Golden Fleece Awards in the 1970s and 1980s.

Flake is planning to introduce legislation yet again to bar the practice of earmarking permanently, though as a practical matter the current temporary moratorium looks likely to continue indefinitely.

Here are five examples of waste according to Flake.

  • Flake targets a total of $1.5 million in grants through the National Science Foundation to test what happens when fish use treadmills. In one example, a mudskipper, which is a fish that can live out of water longer than post, is put on a small treadmill. In the other case, bluegill fish were sent through "treadmill-like swim tunnels."
  • Flake highlighted a $36,700 venture from the Environmental Protection Agency to create a version of the Berkshire region of Massachusetts in the "Minecraft" video game. "Instead of pouring money down the drain in virtual worlds, EPA should target resources to fixing real problems in the real world," the report said.
  • The FBI spent roughly $1.2 million to acquire and then remove an art installation from its Miami field office that made folks ill, according to Flake's report. The $750,000 sculpture of Western Red Cedar was making people at the field office sick because of the presence of Cedar dust.
  • Flake's report points to $1.7 million from the Commerce Department for the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., for holograms of comedians who have died. The first hologram developed is of Jamestown native Lucille Ball of "I Love Lucy" fame, with more to follow, according to the Wastebook.
  • West Virginia University drew scrutiny in Flake's report for a $3.5 million study of why people fear dentists. "With the possibilities ranging from having teeth scraped, filled or pulled, it is not surprising patients feel some anxiety about spending time in the dentist's chair. But as scary as those may sounds, a recent survey found Americans have a higher opinion of root canals than Congress," the report said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Bill Maher isn't high on Trump
Bill Maher isn't high on Trump

It was Nov. 12, and Bill Maher was about to begin his comedy act at the City National Civic in San Jose when he did something he hadn’t done in many years. He brought a drink with him to the stage; a standup roadie (tequila). “And boy did I miss it,” he joked with me last week. “What an idiot all those years — drinking&rsquo...
Corporations open spigot to bankroll inauguration
Corporations open spigot to bankroll inauguration

When Donald Trump strides onto the inaugural ballroom floor this week amid the sprawling celebration of his swearing-in, he will have corporate America and many of its titans to thank for the rapturous greeting. Chevron, the oil giant, has given $500,000 for the dayslong festivities. Boeing, which has been a target of Trump, pledged $1 million. And...
There goes the neighborhood: Obamas, Ivanka Trump, Jeff Bezos are moving in
There goes the neighborhood: Obamas, Ivanka Trump, Jeff Bezos are moving in

In the coming days, Sally Berk will be able to say that she lives in the same Northwest Washington neighborhood as Barack and Michelle, Jared and Ivanka, and a billionaire named Jeff. Ho-hum.  What's another president in the 'hood when five others have already resided in Kalorama, Washington's very own version of Beverly Hills?  Can you blame...
Where Trump is right about China
Where Trump is right about China

Donald Trump is not all wrong about China. That gives his administration an opportunity to reshape what, if not handled carefully, could become the world's most dangerous bilateral relationship.  During the presidential campaign, Trump was mostly off-base in his assessment of the world. NATO is not obsolete. Japan and South Korea are not freeloaders...
Women's March on Washington isn't just about Trump
Women's March on Washington isn't just about Trump

The day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president, an estimated 200,000 people from across the country will flood Washington for a demonstration billed as the Women's March on Washington. Some will stand up for what are traditionally labeled women's issues, such as equal pay and paid family leave. Many say they will be marching just to feel heard...
More Stories