Sunday evening’s episode of Last Week Tonight was dedicated to special districts—a corrupt, obscure instance of government that the U.S. spends around $100 billion on every year.

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“Think of a special district like a cult, it can take your money and you may not even be aware that you are in one,” Oliver explains, noting that special districts are responsible for one thing (like water, fire, education) with access to an exorbitant budget, and often do so with little to no accountability. Idaho, for instance, launched an investigation into their special districts and first had to discover how many there were in the state.

“When special districts only have one job, it makes it all the more noticeable when things go wrong,” he said, giving the example of a mayor who contracted West Nile virus, even though the mayor lived in a county surrounded by four mosquito abatement special districts. One special district was under the total control of two people in a trailer; another fire special district was illegally spending its money on tobacco and fireworks.

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And they’re almost indestructible: “There’s no way to break them up. They’re like styrofoam packing peanuts or the enduring friendship of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.”

Watch the clip below to learn about the national money suck that nobody ever talks about.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.