Lankford blasts wasteful spending, government ‘fumbles’: Million-dollar wine trails and Ecuador drag shows

FIRST ON FOX: Oklahoma GOP Senator James Lankford released the seventh volume of his “Federal Fumbles” series blasting needless government spending amid the federal government’s debt ceiling negotiations.

The report details numerous examples of what Lankford calls wasteful and uneccessary uses of taxpayer funds that shouldn’t be priorities while the government racks up sky-high deficits.

Lankford hopped on the phone with Fox News Digital to talk about his seventh book highlighting government spending waste coming out of Washington.

The Oklahoma senator said the annual report “is a focus on where are we’re wasting American taxpayer dollars and where is the federal government overregulating so that they are literally fumbling the ball.”


“So our focus is not just wasteful spending, it’s also activities from the federal government that they’re doing things they should not do,” Lankford said.

With the national debt at $31 trillion, Lankford told Fox News Digital that “right now, the Biden administration is saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want to negotiate on the debt ceiling. Everything’s fine. In fact, we want to increase spending.’”

“No one believes that the federal government is totally efficient. Let me bring you some examples of this,” Lankford said. “And you tell me if this is what the federal government should do.”

“So, we did a whole grant for helmet and seatbelt studies in Ghana. We did a Shakespeare on the border to do a grant to present a new cultural praxis in decolonization at the US-Mexico borderlands,” Lankford said. “There was a study of colonial sounds in Mexico.”

“We put in a $4 million wine walking trail in Napa Valley, California, with federal dollars,” Lankford continued. “That is one of the wealthiest communities in the world. Why are the people of Oklahoma helping pay for a wine trail in Napa Valley, California? We put the new fire alarm system into the Metropolitan Opera, which I’m not sure why, again, the people of Oklahoma should be paying for the fire alarm system in the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.”

Lankford said he looks at some of the spending projects and thinks, “okay, it’s fine for somebody to do this study,” but asked why the funding has to come from “the federal taxpayer.”

“For instance, we did an award for a grant and study the secret language that butchers use in Paris, France, in the 13th century,” Lankford said. “Okay, fine. If somebody wants to study butcher language in France in the 13th century, that’s fine. Why am I paying for that study in the federal tax dollars?”

Lankford said that “sunshine” is the best way to trim the fat on needless government spending and that his report dropping amid debt ceiling negotiations was unplanned.

The Oklahoma senator said he believes we will see meaningful spending cuts through the debt ceiling negotiations but noted that one vote won’t solve everything.

“It’s not going to solve everything. We’re way out of balance,” Lankford said. “There’s no way you can have a vote that solves everything, but you can change the trajectory.”

Lankford’s waste report highlights several different price tags the federal government has paid with names befitting the absurdity of the spending, including $20,600 for “Drag Shows in Ecuador,” $1 million for a Washington, D.C. “dance equity organization” the Dance Institute of Washington, and $25,000 for a modern art exhibit centered around John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono in Springfield, Missouri.

The Yoko Ono exhibit will be entitled “Yoko Ono: Mend Piece” and will be featured at the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri thanks to federal tax dollars.

“The Springfield Museum of Art describes the exhibit as a ‘simple white room,’ where ‘shattered cups and saucers are placed on a table,’” Lankford’s report reads in a section titled “Yoko Oh-No!” “‘Participants are asked to mend the fragments together using common household items: twine, glue, scissors, and tape. The resulting works are displayed on nearby shelves, evidence of the power of collective action.’”

Other “Top 10” federal receipts include the National Science Foundation spending $660,422 to “study the impact COVID had on Russian women,” $11.3 million on the VA offering veterans abortions, and a $66,000 funding a book titled “Mexican Soundscapes of the Colonial Era.”

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