Day Two of the House Oversight Committee’s hearings into waste and abuse at the General Services Administration dawned without the sunny presence of the agency’s most famous employee, Western Regional Commissioner Jeffrey Neely, who decided to assert his Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination when it was his turn to sizzle upon the Oversight hibachi.
Neely’s extravagance made him the “face” of the scandal, and was so extreme that even Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland declared that Neely and his chums “believe they were some sort of agency royalty, who used taxpayer funds to bankroll their lavish lifestyle. They disregarded one of the most basic tenets of government service: it’s not your money, it’s the taxpayers’ money.” Funny, but Democrat politicians shriek that it’s “extremism” when the Tea Party says the exact same thing to them.
Appearing on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News program, House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was even tougher on Neely. “Well, clearly, what we know now is that Neely and others, in fact, stole money,” said Issa. “They used money that had to be used personally, implied to some people that it was personal, but in fact, used the GSA credit cards for a number of expenses.”
As for Neely taking the Fifth, Issa pointed out that it’s particularly galling because he’s still on the payroll.
That’s right, folks: Jeffrey Neely hasn’t been fired. He’s on paid administrative leave. “He’ll make $179,000 a year until he is terminated, which could be a very long time,” Issa reported. Neely also raked in a $9,000 bonus on top of his salary, despite President Obama’s highly publicized assurances that his vast army of federal employees would suffer a “pay freeze” to help balance the budget.
Not only did Neely take the Fifth, but Issa revealed that Neely’s lawyer actually threatened “to try to use the D.C. bar’s ethics rule against our counsels, who are members of the bar, for, quote, bringing somebody who asserted they were going to take the Fifth” into the House Oversight hearings.
What will it take to get Neely out of our wallets? “Well, you know, hopefully an indictment and conviction,” said Issa. “But it seems like short of that, at least this administrator, and hopefully, not the next, imply that you can’t get rid of these people any other way.”
Van Susteren wondered if Neely might be staying at the posh Ritz-Carlton while in D.C. for his hearings. “Well, I hope the GSA found the best rate,” sighed Rep. Issa.
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