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McCaskill: Firings for Misuse of Taxpayer Funds for Clowns and Vegas Loft Parties ‘a no-brainer’

Following her work to crack down on waste, fraud, abuse in agency’s contracting, Senator applauds personnel changes at GSA

April 3, 2012

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a former State Auditor, today released the following statement in response to an Inspector General investigation detailing shocking abuse of taxpayer money by the Government Services Administration (GSA), and applauding the subsequent firing and resignation of senior Administration officials:

"I've been investigating GSA for more than a year, and this report shows what I'd already suspected: an unacceptable waste of taxpayer dollars at the GSA. This latest Inspector General report uncovers almost-unbelievable irresponsibility on the part of GSA officials, and underlines the importance of our Inspectors General in holding government accountable. Getting rid of these officials, who clearly weren't up to the task of safeguarding taxpayer dollars, is a no-brainer-and I plan to continue my fight for accountability at GSA, and across the federal government."

The Obama Administration announced today that GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has resigned and that Bob Peck, GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner, has been fired. These personnel changes are the result of an Inspector General report into a GSA conference held in Las Vegas, and follow an earlier hearing which McCaskill chaired in 2011 into the waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars through GSA contracts. Among the findings in the report:

  • $822,751.00 in taxpayer money was spent on expenses associated with the conference, which was held at the M Resort in Las Vegas.
  • Money was spent on hiring a "mind-reader," a clown, and a comedian for the conference; tuxedos for the conference hosts; after-hours parties in a two-story loft suite; and multiple "planning meetings" and a "dry run" for the conference (which were also held at the resort).
  • GSA failed to adhere to federal laws or even its own internal procedures in planning and facilitating the conference.

McCaskill began investigating the award of contracts by GSA's Public Building Service in 2010. At a March 2011 hearing, McCaskill questioned Martha Johnson and Bob Peck regarding the decision to award a no-bid public relations contract and the failure of senior Administration officials to adequately review and justify the contract price.  The GSA IG released a report earlier this year finding that "some of the information provided by GSA officials during the hearing contained misstatements of fact" and a supplemental letter provided by the Administrator [Martha Johnson] contained "incorrect" information and failed to correct the earlier errors.

McCaskill is an outspoken advocate for accountability in government. Last year, a top official at the U.S. Department of Labor resigned after an Inspector General investigation, requested by McCaskill, found that the official, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Raymond Jefferson, circumvented rules and regulations to secure government contracts for friends and colleagues.

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