More fun with the GSA: Cutting ribbons in Hawaii


The Inspector General of the Government Services Administration has been having a series of uncomfortable conversations with employees of the agency, concerning the fantastic amount of taxpayer money they blew on a fabulous party in Las Vegas in 2010.  Along the way, a few other anecdotes have surfaced to indicate just how high these bureaucrats have been living on your dollars.

One such eye-popping story, related by Fox News, tells us that “five GSA employees went to Hawaii for up to a week in 2011 to attend an hour-long groundbreaking on space leased by the federal government for the FBI.”

The employee indicated to the IG investigator that trip was not isolated and that there was another, longer junket scheduled for Hawaii this fall.

That one would be in Hilo, Hawaii for 10 days and would include groundbreakings for a federal building, a post office and perhaps a courthouse.

The transcript indicates that some of the GSA employees went snorkeling during their free time in the mornings.

“And they were, I’m sure, working hard the whole time,” the IG’s office is quoted as saying.

“I doubt it,” a GSA employee responded.

You’re not hearing about any of this through the offices of the Obama Administration.  It’s all coming from various House committees, in this case the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Which is appropriate, since this story contains offenses against both transportation and infrastructure.  Flying to Hawaii isn’t cheap.

It’s too bad the Republicans took control of the House in 2010, or that second wonderful Hawaiian junket might still be on track… as would the next conference in Vegas, which would have blown another pile of taxpayer dough on a “green” office lifestyle training seminar for the bureaucracy, if it hadn’t been canceled due to outrage over the $800,000 Western Regional Conference party. 

Another House committee looking into the Las Vegas scandal, the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent out a press release yesterday afternoon, clarifying a juicy detail that added a little extra soupcon of outrage to the bubbling stew of wasted taxpayer cash:

Documents recently gathered from the General Services Administration in response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation into DOE’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra reveal that former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson was scheduled to visit Solyndra on October 28, 2010, at the same time as the now-infamous GSA conference in Las Vegas. It appears Administrator Johnson’s trip was scrapped at the last minute due to Solyndra’s pending layoffs announcement, amid concerns by the Obama administration over the political fallout from the layoffs.

(Emphases mine.)  So, if it makes you feel any better, know that Administrator Johnson was indeed planning to visit Barack Obama’s showpiece “green energy” disaster while her employees were throwing themselves a million-dollar party to celebrate their success at pouring a trillion dollars of your money into the Obama “stimulus” rat hole, but the trip was canceled at the last minute because the Obama Administration knew how bad the collapse of Solyndra was about to make it look.

What would Johnson have done while visiting Solyndra?  According to an internal memo from the GSA press secretary:

“I’m coordinating with the Solyndra folks today to tie down the details. I’ll let you know if anything changes, but as of now the event is the morning of Thursday, the 28th. I’m shooting for 10:30ish. MJ will take a tour of the plant and speak to plant execs and workers. No formal remarks. I’m inviting a few targeted reporters who seem like good fits for this sort of thing.” 

I wonder if we’ll ever find out who those “targeted reporters” were.

Alas, even though her staff promised they were still working on “something for you for a visit to Solyndra,” it appears that Administrator Johnson will never visit that storied cemetery for millions of taxpayer dollars, for both she and Solyndra are history.