COMMENTARY | The majority of Americans would have been content to live out their lives without viewing images of Jeffrey Neely in a hot tub. The pricey soiree on the taxpayers' dime landed Neely and his General Services Administration cohorts in a different kind of hot water this week on Capitol Hill, according to the Washington Post.
Rumor has it the medium hired to entertain the public employees during the Las Vegas conference channeled Thomas Jefferson. After the thud, thud, thudding of the Founding Father rolling over in his grave subsided, he sent a warning to all government agencies -- the party's over, the taxpayers will tolerate no more.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa warned "GSA is just the tip of the iceberg" and noted memos were issued to a host of other agencies about their spending habits, according to the National Journal.
The Obama administration is likely hoping the scandal starts and ends with the GSA. The Capitol Hill probe surprisingly boasts a bipartisan mindset. Republican Rep. Jeff Dunham and Democratic Rep. Tim Walz embodied the spirit of true statesmen during the hearings. The pair cast party rhetoric aside, asked the hard questions and exquisitely voiced the anger of the American taxpayer during their questioning of GSA officials.
It is astounding that Neely retained his position as the GSA regional commissioner for the past two years. Although the public has only recently learned about the abuse, internal warnings about Neely's excessive travel expenses were issued before the conference, according to documents referenced during the Capitol Hill hearings. The slight slap on the wrist of a written reprimand did not deter continued nationwide travel to popular vacation spots.
Even though Neely opted to assert his Fifth Amendment rights, other GSA staffers have had plenty to say. Only GSA Deputy Director Susan Brita appears to be free from blame. Brita's testimony and documents in support of the actions she took to end the improper spending highlight her repeated attempts to be a whistleblower. The soft-spoken senior citizen was rebuked each time she tried to force action to terminate the excessive spending.
The ongoing hearings will undoubtedly yield more mind-boggling antics at the governmental agency.