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A Times Editorial

Big time in Vegas on taxpayers' dime

With its inexcusable bills for $822,000 on fancy meals, luxury hotels, entertainment and dubious "team building" exercises, GSA could stand for the Grand Soiree Administration. But as the recently resigned federal General Services Administration leader Martha Johnson learned, such waste of public money is misbehavior that definitely does not stay in Las Vegas.

Johnson submitted her resignation after a withering GSA inspector general's investigation into the feckless squandering of taxpayer money on a 2010 training conference for 300 employees at the M Resort Spa Casino celebrating the Obama administration's Recovery Act. The public money covered $136,000 in preconference costs and $686,000 on the conference itself. The excesses included $146,500 in food and beverage catering as well as receptions, commemorative gewgaws, $75,000 for a team building exercise putting together bicycles, and hiring clowns and comedians. A good time was had by all, except for an angry White House, which forced out Johnson and her top deputies responsible for numerous violations of federal contracting policies.

Of all the excessive expenses, one stands out. The mind reader hired for the conference failed to explain what Johnson was thinking when she approved $822,000 for a four-day Las Vegas party on the public's dime.

Big time in Vegas on taxpayers' dime 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 5:50pm]
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