This is not exactly the picture you want public when you are invoking your Fifth Amendment Privilege Against Self-Incrimination. The picture shows General Services Administration official Jeff Neely enjoying a spa tub and wine as part of the $822,000 Las Vegas conference that is now the subject of a congressional investigation, as previously discussed. Neely, the GSA’s Public Buildings Service regional commissioner, invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in a hearing. His seat remained vacant at the hearing after his invocation.
The refusal to testify raises in interesting question of whether an official (who must routinely appear before Congress or its members) should be fired for invoking a constitutional right. Neely still remains employed (though under suspension) by the federal government but has refused to answer questions from the federal government. He however is facing both a congressional and possible criminal investigation. There is no question that as a potential criminal defendant he would be unwise to testify without immunity. Yet, should that be grounds for his termination? We generally do not allow federal employees to be punished for the use or invocation of their constitutional rights. What do you think?