GSA Scandal Fallout Continues on Capitol Hill

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Congress will hear more testimony in the spending controversy at the General Services Administration Tuesday.

The GSA spent more than $820,000 in taxpayer money at a conference in Las Vegas in 2010. And now, it was revealed that GSA officials held eight pre-conference scouting trips and events to plan the conference.

Lawmakers will be hearing more from the GSA's former Public Building Service chief  Robert Peck, who threw a party at the conference on the taxpayers' dime.

Peck was fired in the wake of the scandal and has been ordered to pay back nearly $2,000. He will testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

During the first day of hearings, the former head of the GSA offered an apology for the wasteful spending.

"I am extremely aggrieved by the gall of a handful of people to misuse federal tax dollars, twist contracting rules, and defile the great name of the General Services Administration," ex-GSA chief Martha Johnson testified.

"I personally apologize to the American people. As the head of the agency, I am responsible. I deeply regret this," she said.

Regional administrator Jeff Neely, the man at the center of the investigation, asserted his right to remain silent.

"Mr. Chairman, I respectfully decline to answer any questions based upon my fifth amendment constitutional privilege," he said upon questioning.

Neely was placed on leave by the GSA's new leadership. He was commissioner for the Public Buildings Service in the Pacific Rim region, covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and several other countries and territories.

Also at Monday's hearing, GSA Inspector General Brian Miller revealed that he is also investigating possible bribery and kickbacks and already has recommended criminal charges to the U.S. Justice Department.

The GSA takes care of buying and managing everything, from office supplies to cars to buildings, for the government.

The agency oversees $66 billion of purchasing every year, and it helps to manage about $500 billion of federal property, including 8,600 buildings and 210,000 vehicles.

 

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