A source of outrage for conservatives was the GSA (General Services Administration) scandal that broke earlier this year. The government agency had spent $823,000 on a single conference in Las Vegas. It cost the GSA head and several other agency officials their jobs. Jeff Neely, the public building administrator for the GSA, made headlines when photos of the lavish Vegas conference leaked, showing Neely soaking in a bathtub in a fancy Vegas hotel suite sipping on red wine with a Vegas panorama behind him. He was the subject of several Congressional hearings that investigated his authorization of such wasteful spending:
“Neely is accused of spending four times the amount budgeted for a GSA conference at the luxurious M Resort in Las Vegas. Neely authorized spending thousands of dollars on lavish parties, tuxedo rentals, commemorative coins, a mind reader, a clown and, as one lawmaker noted Monday, the purchase of commemorative blackjack dealer vests ‘so that everyone could feel in character while they were there.'”
While $823,000 is a lot of taxpayer money to waste on a 5-day Vegas party, what seemed to be ignored by the press was that Americans have had to pay for about 153 such conferences hosted by various government agencies since 2004:
“The Department of Defense held 64 conferences, between 2005 and 2011, that cost more than either $3,000 per attendee or $600 per each day of a person’s attendance. Per OGR’s investigation so far, the Social Security Administration has hosted the second-highest number of the high-dollar conferences (22), while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) comes in third with 21 events that cost more per person than the GSA’s Las Vegas conference.”
Now, finally the White House is being targeted because of their wasteful spending on dinner parties. The White House hosted a dinner party 2 years ago that was attended by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and it cost the taxpayers $1 million, or $4,700 per person. From the Washington Examiner:
“A special concert stage was erected in a massive walled tent on the South Lawn where singer Beyoncé entertained guests for the Calderon dinner. Private trolleys ferried guests from the White House to the tent, and a celebrity chef was brought in from Chicago to prepare a special menu for the event.”
There have been 3 other state dinners like the Calderon dinner that each cost half a million dollars or more. Darrel Issa, a Republican from California and the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) demanded on Friday that Hillary Clinton hand over documents including e-mail communications and itemized cost reports relating to the last 6 state dinners. We’ll see if this turns into the scandal that it should be.
Fancy dinner parties are some of the perks of being a government employee. They get to go on week-long alcohol binge parties, which they call “conferences.” How can we solve the problem of overspending when our government is addicted to taxpayer money?