GSA Administrator Resigns After Report Finds Small Agency Spent $820,000 On Lavish Nevada Conference

In Washington, there are a few standard rules of engagement. Rule 436 is “if you are going to spend taxpayer dollars on lavish vacations, do not make a mocking video boasting that you will buy those things the agency can’t afford and “never be under OIG investigation.” This week the Office of Inspector General (OIG) proved the difference between rap and reality — it issued a damning report on the $820,000 spent by Public Buildings Service’s western region at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nevada.


The report has already caused the resignation of General Services Administration chief Martha Johnson. Johnson previously dismissed two deputies and suspended other career employees over the affair.

The report on the conference of this tiny agency within the General Services Administration contains an incredible list of excessive items, including more than $6,000 on commemorative coins, $8,000 on a “yearbook” and $3,200 for an in-house mind reader. What struck me most was the over $130,000 on pre-convention preparation, including visits to the proposed sites that cost $100,000, with another $30,000 for catering. It also included a consultant contract for $12,000 to help find a location they would repeatedly visit. I fail to understand why our federal building employees cannot find a resort on their own, particularly when resorts have staff to facilitate such conferences.

I am happy to report that this trip to Canada and Vermont was brought in at a cost less than $820,000, though we did order a second helping of Frickles last night. Nevertheless, I have asked our guest editors to investigate all of the expenses of this trip in our commitment to a transparent public-regarding blog. (I will note that the over-consumption of maple syrup was done yesterday without the knowledge or approval of the parents in the Depot Restaurant in Randolph).

Source: CNN

68 thoughts on “GSA Administrator Resigns After Report Finds Small Agency Spent $820,000 On Lavish Nevada Conference”

  1. What sort of pickle do you use? I’ve always wanted to fry up a pickle or two (grilled pickles are also delicious), but figured it was one of those things that you needed just the right type for.

  2. We should have “looked back.” Systemic top-down corruption, lawlessness, theft, lies… Sure, these have always been problems but, now, they’ve been largely legitimized. We see some hand-slapping, as we’ve seen here, but the big fish just keep gettin’ away.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/torture-memo-bush_n_1408612.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D149927

    Excerpts:

    The Bush White House tried to destroy every copy of the memo, written by then-State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. Zelikow examined tactics like waterboarding — which simulates drowning — and concluded that there was no way they were legal, domestically or internationally.

    Ten months into Obama’s presidency, White House Counsel Greg Craig resigned, a move some saw as a purge and grim sign for any hope that the president would keep fighting on these issues. Craig is known to have advocated strongly for Obama to hold fast to the principles that he has espoused in regards to dealing with torture suspects — regardless of the immediate political consequences.

    Where does that leave us? “I wouldn’t call us an outlaw nation,” Blanton said, “but I don’t think we’ve come to terms with our gang period.” (end of excerpts)

  3. rcampbell,

    The systems of checks usually don’t work. You only hear about it when it’s too egregious to ignore.

    A major health care fraud to the tune of billions of dollars was recently discovered. A documentary on that is scheduled to air on TV shortly, but I don’t remember what channel it’s on. Getting to be a bit too much to keep track of.

    Just because it happens in the private sector doesn’t excuse the government. The government is supposed to work for you (public servant).

  4. Thankfully, as Rafflaw pointed out, the system of checks worked and the offenders were called to account.

    Sadly they weren’t. Yes, being fired sucks but after stealing nearly a million dollars simply being fired doesn’t amount to being “called to account” in my book. I don’t have an issue with private companies doing this, it is their money.

  5. The kind of wasteful spending the GSA engaged in is deplorable. Thankfully, as Rafflaw pointed out, the system of checks worked and the offenders were called to account. Many have quite rightly noted this same activity in the private sector. The area of the private sector where I find this kind of lavish spending so egregious is the for-profit healthcare insurance providers spending outrageous sums on fun and games for themselves while raising rates on premium-payers.

  6. Raf, again, I have to ask: where is the DoJ? -lottakatz

    Indeed. Thanks for the update and link, lottakatz.

  7. Raf, again, I have to ask: where is the DoJ? Benton Harbor is a town that has a almost complete minority makeup. Their right to democratic process has been usurped, the only real resource of the town has been sold to private industry and destroyed, and its been done in by ignoring state laws as well as what I see as the clear intent of Federal law. Where is the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ?

    My state (many states) also have emergency management laws on the books and have implemented them but I have never heard of any implementation as ruthless and obviously crony oriented as what has happened in Michigan. IMO there’s a fundamental problem with the premise that the Federal government cant suspend your basic voting rights but that a State can.

  8. Curious, it’s on another thread:

    The Maddow film is up on Hullabaloo as part of the lead story:

    It is time to call it a coup in Michigan, srsly, if you have been following the story of Benton Harbor and its destruction , its dismantling as a town for the benefit of a business enterprise in the last year, you can see that this Republican legislature has illegally set Michigan up as their kingdom, literally, a kingdom to do with as they choose. The entire Republican legislature should be in jail, in jail because society has progress beyond barricading the statehouse doors and setting the building on fire by way of revolution.

    Actually though, I’ve seen the same move, calling a vote, closing it seconds later and calling/recording the vote for your side in the U S House in the last few years.

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

  9. OT

    Have any of you heard about what is happening in the MI legislature? The Rachel Maddow show ran a 16 minute piece on 4/5. Seems they don’t bother to do a roll call count of Democrats that are needed in order to pass “Emergency” legislation that takes effect immediately. The House Dems are suing the House Repubs and have gotten an injuction. The Repubs have been “passing” all kinds of ALEC type legislation this way – including the one that removes elected town officials and replaces them with full power emergency managers. I hope one of you will look into this. This should go National!

    Sorry I don’t have a link. Couldn’t figure out how to do it.

  10. I know. That was my initial reaction when I first heard of them too, W=^..^. They’re kind of a Southern thing. I was kind of surprised a place that far north sells them. I first tried them at a catfish place in Mississippi when I was a teenager. They aren’t the kind of thing you’d probably want as part of your regular diet, but actually they are pretty good if made properly. The big problems are they are easy to get too salty or too mushy.

  11. Idealist707,

    My point was $2.3 T went missing and nobody looked for it,
    or if they did, they didn’t have much to report on.
    It seemed strange anyone would be concerned with
    $820,000.00
    But of course, everyone should be very concerned.

  12. GeneH.
    LOL Found humor, is that like objet trouvé d’art??
    Make more money on the latter, if it sells.

    I will enlarge my gaffé and frame it.

    Or ia i so that the less I write, the bigger the mistake.

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