The main figure in a General Services Administration spending scandal took trips to Hawaii, Napa Valley and the South Pacific islands, all after the agency’s inspector general warned top officials about the excesses. Related stories Congress to investigate General Services overspending this week GSA Executive Takes Fifth Amendment GSA scandal: Congress gangs up on bureaucrats behaving badly ( video) A timeline released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday shows that GSA executive Jeffrey Neely took five trips totaling 44 days, including a 17-day trip to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan that he and his wife planned as a birthday celebration.
All came after a May 2011 briefing by Inspector General Brian Miller on his preliminary findings. While Miller was still 11 months away from publicly releasing his final report on GSA spending, he issued the early warning to stop the travel. But it did no good. Play Gaffe Dodger, the presidential election game! For a second straight day, a House committee peppered current and former GSA officials with rapid-fire questions about the spending habits of the government’s real estate agency.
The outrage once again was bipartisan and many questions were aimed more at a culture of excess in violation of government limits, rather than the taxpayer bill of some $823,000 spent on a Las Vegas conference. Miller said he’s investigating kickbacks, bribery and other matters and has already recommended criminal prosecutions to the Justice Department.
The GSA’s top official has resigned, two top aides were fired and at least 10 individuals have been placed on administrative leave. Miller almost seemed overwhelmed by the scope of wrongdoing. “Every time we turned over a stone we found 50 more with all kinds of things crawling out,” Miller said.
Family members often were taken along on trips, and an email exchange between San Francisco-based Neely and his wife last November laid out plans for turning the 17-day South Pacific trip — to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan — into a celebration.