Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bribes, kickbacks in GSA scandal?

CBS News reported today in WASHINGTON - A hearing on an extravagant government conference in Las Vegas was to enter its second day on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

On Monday, a House committee heard from officials accused of wasting taxpayer money on fancy meals and over-the-top entertainment.

GSA inspector general Brian Miller says he believes the behavior he uncovered goes beyond impropriety and could possibly be criminal. He wants the Justice Department to investigate possible bribes and kickbacks.

It turns out it wasn't an isolated case of overspending by the General Services Administration, or GSA, which manages federal buildings.

Prior conferences, stretching all the way back to 2006, were nearly as expensive -- all this at the agency that's supposed to set the standard for the rest of government.

New grilling set for current, former GSA officials

In Las Vegas in 2010, Jeff Neely bragged about a conference he called "over-the-top," which cost taxpayers $822,000. "What's done in Vegas needs to be shared with everybody!" Neely said at the time.

But on the Hill Monday, the San Francisco-based GSA official was far less forthcoming, repeatedly saying words to the effect of "Mr. Chairman, on the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer" to different questions.

Emails released at the hearing show Neely planned lavish after-hours parties and invited friends to stay at the conference hotel, all at taxpayer expense. Pictures on the Internet show him enjoying one of at least half-a-dozen so-called "scouting trips" to Vegas in the months before the conference.

"Why is he still an employee?" wondered Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah). " ... What does it take to actually be fired from the GSA?"

"It's so easy," remarked Rep. Mike Kelly (R, Pa.), "to spend someone's money, especially when you're not held accountable. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that the American people have to sit back and watch this."

The overspending was apparently so rampant that GSA employees made videos mocking it.

In one, the GSA's David Foley jokingly says, "The hotel would like to talk to you about paying for the party that was held in the commissioner's suite last night."

Foley apologized at the hearing Tuesday, saying, "There were things that seemed over-the-top, but I believed they were not being paid for with government funds."

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson stepped down two weeks ago when the excesses came to light. She says she was trying to impose stricter spending standards at the agency -- but she also gave Neely a $9,000 bonus last year -- even as he was being investigated.

"As the head of the agency, I am responsible," Johnson said at the hearing. "I deeply regret this. I will mourn for the rest of my life the loss of my appointment."

The president has named a new GSA administrator, and he testified Tuesday that he's already cancelled 35 upcoming conferences -- at a savings of nearly $1 million.


Anonymous said...

If one conference cost $822K, then cancelling 35 conferences should save more than the "nearly $1 million."

I read a posting on the blog about the Secret Service sex scandal that mentioned that GSA might invite the Secret Service to their next conference because the only think missing was the prostitutes.

Why did Johnson hide what she knew for so long? She knew it was wrong for a long time and did nothing. Only when the IG report was about to come out did she resign. Shame on her. Every head of a wasteful government activity should be fired.

Syneeda said...

Anon, As depicted in the cartoon pic, it's always the tax payers that get ripped off when government officials like Mrs. Johnson chooses to turn the blind eye to government corruption.
I'm living proof of what happens to military whistleblowers who reports financial corruption within the military.

After watching the news clip video of her testifying to how she will "mourn" losing her position, I was sick to my stomach. What about mourning the loss of millions of dollars tax dollars that was wasted under her watch while her subordinates partied it up in Vegas?

She should face indictment like the rest of the crooks, especially after admitting to her dereliction of duty.

The problem with senior financial officers is, they would rather compromise themselves along with their fiduciary duty to the American taxpayer, just to "Get along" or be like. This scandal is a classic example of such.

The same thing almost happened to me. Before the adultery allegations were made to the command, I was offered a chance to hope onboard the gravy train. I was approached by a senior ranking official who worked for the defense contracting company I blew the whistle on, as well as by a few senior military officers who retired and were about to retire and were rehired to work for the company.
Of course, I turned them down because I refused to compromise my morals. Not everyone can do that.

This year, last month, marks the 5 year anniversary when I blew the whistle on my former bosses. I uncovered FRAUD and I was punished for reporting it.

Anonymous said...

Anon, After this scandal, I'm sure the OSC will be examining whistleblower's complaints alot more closely. @ Syneeda, You are a woman of courage, honor and commitment and you didn't deserve to be treated like they treated you. In either the civilian sector or in the military, who is ever charged with committing adultery, much less is fined and jailed for it, whether they slept with someone or not. I would like to see the defense secretary poll his military to see just how many of the men who raped the rape victims were married. If so, why were they never prosecuted? Especially considering the legal precedence U.S. vs. Penland set. As a matter of fact, I've searched all over the internet for your case and have yet to find it, even the record of trial looks fishy!!

Anonymous said...

At least the GSA had an IG that did its job, albeit a bit slow. This is very different from the Defense Department IG, and the IGs of all the branches, that have adopted a culture of cover-up. Of course, that's why we are where we are with rape and sexual assaults, not to mention the fraud, waste and abuse that is happening everyday within the services. It looks like the number of military involved in the Secret Service sex scandal may have increased to ten. So, if any of them dipped the wick in any orifice, we should see prosecution for adultery...if the military is an equal opportunity prosecutor...which we already know it is not.

Anonymous said...

"As the head of the agency, I am responsible."

That's the way it's supposed to be! So when is Mr. Mabus going to take responsibility for the rapes and assaults, and step down? Meanwhile, his “Queen of Denial” is rounding up her new training team, including a travel coordinator, so that the Queen and her entourage can train those commands that encourage sexual assault and rape. Perhaps they can all travel to Las Vegas for their training. Yes, you know what the problem is and you’re still going to spend a ship-load of the taxpayer’s money claiming to train people who are already supposed to know that rape and assault is wrong. When is Jill Loftus going to get a clue and understand that prevention is best accomplished by swift prosecution? It looks like Mr. Panetta is leaning in that direction.

Anonymous said...

So far, little fallout from this scandal. One Secret service employee resigned, one was allowed to retire, and one may be fired. So, you can commit a crime in a foreign country, possibly be supporting the trafficking of persons, and nothing really happens. At least one of the three gets rewarded for the rest of his life with a retirement check.....all while bragging that they worked for President Obama while picking up prostitutes at the "Pley Club" brothel. Basically, they did a "Weinfurtner" or more and they're getting a "Sturges." I haven't heard about prosecution for adultery, but these "agents" are military. We'll see.

Syneeda said...

Anon, So far, I'm currently the only person to be "selectively prosecuted" in the military for adultery "as a single person". But, had my case been "officially upheld" I'm sure it would've set a legal precedence to prosecute other military officials.

As far as my conviction and discharge for adultery, "Not everything is as it seems!"

In what law book will you find my where my case was officially upheld to set a legal precedence?!"

Anonymous said...

Anon, I think you posted this to the wrong post. You probably meant to post it to the Secret Service sex scandal. It's interesting that we were first told that prostitution was illegal there with tolerance zones. Now we're being told that it's not illegal. But, these guys are still really getting a "Sturges" after pulling a "William Weinfurtner." Makes you wonder why our tax dollars aren't being used to cover it up like the Weinfurtner sex solicitation matter. Oh, that's right, we aren't covering for a complaint against a high level official.....and it made the news. We'll have to wait to see about adultery charges for the military. It shouldn't matter if there is an actual legal precedent. It's a matter of obvious discrimination or disparate treatment.

Syneeda said...

(as the roll plays in the background)..... The charges against the military personnel is???? NOT GUILTY of committing adultery... We will never know if any of these guys are married and who's to say they actually slept with any of the prostitutes? If so, who cares, because the "Military" doesn't prosecute males service members for committing adultery. Just ask Kevin Messer, the Navy JAG who prosecuted my case!

Anonymous said...

What's the latest on Messer and his mistress?

Syneeda said...

That's a GOOD question, hhhmm