The chief of the General Services Administration and two top aides are stepping down after a lavish Vegas trip that angered taxpayers as well as the president when the list of expenses came to light.
GSA chief Martha Johnson acknowledged a “significant misstep,” and admitted that taxpayer dollars were “squandered” during the October 2010 training conference in Las Vegas. Among the items on the tab paid for by the government were a reception billed at $31,208, $6,300 in “commemorative coin sets,” $3,200 for a “mind reader,” and a stunning $75,000 for a training exercise to build a bicycle.
Along with Johnson, Public Buildings Service chief Robert A. Peck and Peck’s advisor Stephen Leeds also stepped down. (As part of the nearly $900,000 Vegas spending orgy, $2,000 was billed for a private party in Peck’s suite.) Lawmakers blasted the spending in the House and Senate, with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) calling the the GSA scandal a “a stupid and infuriating waste of taxpayer dollars” and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) decrying a situation indicative of “waste that exists in a bloated federal government.”
But it wasn’t just Republicans and “Independents” taking a stance against the lavish Vegas spending at the center of the GSA scandal- President Obama also issued a statement through White House chief of staff Jack Lew. In the statement, the Commander in Chief expressed “outrage,” and basically called for GSA firings. The statement read:
“On his first day in office, President Obama made clear that the people who serve in his Administration are keepers of the public trust and that public service is a privilege. Under his leadership, this Administration has taken historic steps to protect taxpayer dollars and eliminate waste across the federal government.”
“When the White House was informed of the Inspector General’s findings we acted quickly to determine who was responsible for such a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. The President was informed before his trip to South Korea, and he was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars. He called for all those responsible to be held fully accountable given that these actions were irresponsible and entirely inconsistent with the expectations that he has set as President.”
Four more administrators are on leave while the GSA scandal is investigated.