In Colorado, Where the Homeland Security Money Goes

$1,500 on polo shirts noted, but many expenditures kept secret by state's sgencies


But extensive redacting was frequent in the documents.

On documents spelling out a $163,803 grant to the Colorado State Patrol unit that provides security for the governor and other dignitaries, even the "project title" was redacted.

There was no way to tell how the Department of Agriculture spent $150,000 more in homeland security money.

Or what the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's Division of Oil and Public Safety Explosive Permitting Program did with its $6,420.02 grant. The paperwork noted only that people who legally obtained permits to handle explosives had "experienced difficulties while traveling through airports."

Or even why the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was denied permission to spend $59,775.10 on unspecified requests.

In another case, a denial was spelled out.

The Colorado Army National Guard attempted to get $2,110.89 for 42 polo shirts - identified on the invoice as duty uniforms for the National Guard FSIVA (Full Spectrum Integrated Vulnerability Assessment) team.

The Division of Emergency Management reduced the reimbursement by $1,448.32.

"This item is neither in the approved budget nor an allowable expense under the critical infrastructure grant," the rejection letter read.

Some of the expenditures covered the nuts and bolts of homeland security.

For example, the state Department of Personnel and Administration's Division of Information Technologies received $664,400 to upgrade radio communications. However, there was no way to tell what kind of equipment was purchased, who got it, or how it would improve security in the state.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife got a $350,000 grant - much of it going for portable computers designed to "improve data communication" that will "expedite information when law enforcement is attempting to locate terrorist" activity, according to documents.

Rob Firth, chief of law enforcement for the Division of Wildlife, said the computers went to officers in the field. The DOW has a lot of specialized machinery, like snow cats, that might be enlisted in case of emergency, he said.

The Department of Veterans and Military Affairs spent $125.24 on clothes at a Goodwill store to be used by "actors" in a disaster drill. The same agency spent $2,985 on T-shirts and caps to "identify participants" in an industrial attack exercise at Coors brewing in Golden, and $3,364.81 on lunches at a disaster exercise in Vail.

And at a training session for University of Colorado staff, designed to "identify and assess required action in a potential WMD incident," organizers decided to spend an unspecified amount to "pay personnel and provide refreshments and lunch" so the group could continue their work uninterrupted. That reference was visible even though a heavy black line was through it.

"That's outrageous," Grossman said. "There's no legitimate reason why an expenditure like that should be redacted. That worries me more than anything else, because it sounds to me like they're redacting things that may be embarrassing or that they don't want to disclose to the public.

"This was homeland security money?" he asked. "I think it should be obvious to everyone that homeland security money shouldn't be spent on cold cuts and black Magic Markers, but I guess the executive branch disagrees."

He was critical of the administration of Gov. Bill Owens for what he described as a lack of openness on the spending of homeland security money.

"These guys came kicking and screaming to the table with any kind of openness with regard to these records," Grossman said, "so while it's not completely surprising that they have been heavy with the redacting pen, they should show a little more faith to the law they helped to negotiate."

Beasley responded angrily to Grossman's criticism, calling the senator's assertion that the administration had to be dragged into discussions about opening records "bulls---."

He said it was he and Owens who first called people together last November "way before Dan Grossman thought about running for attorney general . . . and (making) homeland security a political football."