What Happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas: GSA Official Invokes Right To Remain Silent in Congressional Hearing

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?

Source: Politico

49 thoughts on “What Happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas: GSA Official Invokes Right To Remain Silent in Congressional Hearing”

  1. Whatever those schucks do, they should not fire him for not testifying. They should fire him for what they already know and can prove. He has the right to not talk. Sometimes it is hard not to tallk. He could woff.
    Just Dog Talkin.

  2. Sockpuppet: “I’m looking for a government job as well. It is like the next best thing to retirement.”

    Work 20 years for Social Security, and tell us if you still feel the same.

  3. Other than Penn and Teller? Maybe the Star Trek Experience? Vegas holds no particular attraction that other gambling destintions don’t offer.

  4. MM,

    I agree. Not even the shows and food are worth the trip but millions of people go over and over again. It’s a mystery to me.

  5. Has it struck anyone funny that the same person whose running this hearing also ran the hearing that fluke wanted to testify in…… Not bad for a person that was investigated for insurance fraud….. Arrested for car theft…. His brother was actually convicted…. And made all of his money from viper car alarms…….. Issa….. Seems to be the name….. Seems to know what to look for in a scam…..

  6. Not long ago, I finished re-reading Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail ’72. I don’t remember when I first read it, but going over it again reminded me of seeing George Plimpton (editor of the Paris Review and author of Paper Lion) at an LA Times Book Fair years ago. Plimpton regaled us with stories of meeting Hemingway in Cuba and covering the “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. Upon coming back from the historic match, Plimpton said he found a stoned Hunter Thompson floating serenely in the hotel pool, oblivious to what had just transpired. Inquired Thompson, apparently bored beyond belief: “Who won?”

    I never read Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Perhaps someday. I like his style and perspective, but I don’t have much interest in the town. I had to drive back and forth through it several times on my way to and from Idaho Falls, Idaho, where I spent six months training to become a Navy Nuclear Power Electrical Operator. Not good memories. Thus little interest. It escapes me why anyone would voluntarily go to Lost Wages for anything.

  7. Having a good memory serves one well….. Everyone has that capability if only they learn how to concentrate….. Then it can be a curse….as well as a blessing……

  8. Gene,

    Bob “Quarles” is trying to get me “disarmed” over on the other thread.

  9. Moi?

    But now, back to our feature presentation –

    “Martha Johnson, who resigned this month as head of the General Services Administration, apologized Monday for a Las Vegas conference in 2010 that cost $823,000 and led to the ouster of the agency’s top leaders.”


    Too little, too late, Martha!

    How about you and the others set up a repayment plan or spend the next 15 years in a Federal pen? I kinda like the sound of both.

  10. We don’t know whether he has refused to answer questions posed to him as part of an internal investigation. If he refuses to do so there, where his answers cannot be used against him in a criminal proceeding, he can be fired for insubordination. Of course, given the nature of what occurred, there should be sufficient evidence in the form of authorizations, e-mails, etc. to support significant employment actions against some employees regardless of what they do or don’t say.

  11. After the book sells, we’ll play poker. 😉

    Warning … I’m a very good bluffer … no tells. I have a photographic memory so you know what that means.

  12. Blouise,

    I’m the same – like informal poker, but not the casino version. I also find Texas Hold Em’ incredibly boring. If I can’t play straight poker in a casino, I’ll play blackjack. Everything else is simply too stacked toward the house to consider. Otherwise, it’s shows and dining for me.

  13. That perjury-trap thing worked out so well for former President Bill Clinton.

    Senator Joe McCarthy and Congressman Richard Nixon only subpoenaed witnesses to obtain useful legislative information and not — as some have alleged — for any red-baiting political career aggrandizement.

    “A lawyer who defends himself in court has a fool for a client.” And any lawyer who allows his client to testify before a hostile Congressional committee deserves disbarment for professional incompetence.

    The burden of proof lies with those who allege misconduct in others. The accused person enjoys the presumption of innocence and has no obligation to do the accuser’s work for him. Or so I learned in high school civics class.

    I used to have a hot tub in my tiny back yard and some bottles of wine in the refrigerator. Sometimes I would invite friends over to share both. Had anyone taken a picture, I don’t think any of us would have apologized. I understand that the conference in question cost the taxpayers $822,000. Sounds like too much. Those same taxpayers, however, spent about $20 billion — more than the entire budget for NASA — just air conditioning trailers and tents for our military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq last year. Added to that we have our Vatican-sized white-elephant embassy in Baghdad which looks to consume another $6 billion this year. Added to that we have ….

    You bet our government wastes our money. But the major culprit for that — our uniformed/mercenary garrisoning of the entire globe — seems far too sacrosanct for serious questioning. So we get the guy in the hot tub with a couple of glasses of wine. Not a serious country.

  14. I play poker quite well but prefer small groups without bells and whistles. I do not like Texas Holdem. Slot machines bore me so I played blackjack. Came home with a few thousand more than I left with but had to give some of it to the government. 😉

  15. Smom,

    While his choice in methodology and timing left a lot to be desired, it was ultimately a quality of life choice. He not only had various ailments – some due to his excessive lifestyle, but others simply due to aging – one of his most problematic issues was a hip replacement he was having trouble recovering from. His suicide note read: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won’t hurt.” I never endorse suicide, but when its a quality of life issue, I do understand it. I respect his choice even if I don’t respect how he did it.

  16. Hunter Thompson preferred the bar at the Jerome Hotel in Aspen. After Mr. Thompson committed suicide with his family in the next room, I lost respect. He finally drank himself into total mental insanity and bad physical health it seems.

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