Officials from the spendthrift General Services Administration turned a one-hour ribbon cutting ceremony in Hawaii into a weeklong, taxpayer-funded vacation, according to the Hill.
The disclosure comes one week after it was revealed that the GSA spent more than $800,000 on a lavish Las Vegas getaway that included comedians, clowns, and bicycle-building exercises:
"The Las Vegas conference was the tip of the iceberg, and every new example demonstrates the mind-boggling culture of waste and blatant disregard for the taxpayers' money within GSA," [Republican Rep. John] Mica said.
Information about the Hawaii trip comes from the same source that most of the other information has come from — GSA's Inspector General office. Mica released a partial transcript of an interview with a GSA employee who said several employees went to Hawaii on a Saturday and returned the following Friday for a one-hour ribbon cutting ceremony.
A top GSA official resigned and two of her deputies were fired following the Las Vegas scandal. Rep. Mica is leading a House investigation to see how much money was wasted by the GSA under the president’s watch.
Update: The Daily reports that one of the administrators being investigated for his lengthy "official" stays in Hawaii is Jeff Neely, the GSA's Public Buildings Service regional commissioner. Neely has already been suspended for his involvement with the Las Vegas conference, and is now facing further scrutiny for extending trips for official hour-long ceremonial events into week-long vacations on the taxpayer's dime:
Last year, Neely made at least two weeklong trips to Hawaii — in July to break ground for an FBI building and in October to dedicate a renovated federal building. On the July trip, he traveled with four other senior GSA officials.
"It was just one of those trips where, I think, he left on a Saturday and returned on a Friday, you know, give or take a day here or a day there, for a one-hour ribbon cutting ceremony on a lease space," an unnamed GSA employee told a special agent for the GSA’s Office of Inspector General. A partial transcript of the interview was turned over to congressional investigators.
"I heard stories, you know, going snorkeling in the morning and things like that," the transcript continues. The GSA employee adds that "there wasn’t a whole bunch" on the calendars of the visiting officials.