Top GSA official tried to hide report on Vegas bash – Washington Times

Logo of the United States General Services Adm...

Logo of the United States General Services Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Top GSA official tried to hide report on Vegas bash – Washington Times.

By Jim McElhatton – The Washington Times

A top administrator at the General Services Administration who worked on President Obama’s presidential transition team sought to keep secret the agency report that uncovered massive waste at a lavish taxpayer-funded GSA conference in Las Vegas, records show.

The 2010 conference, which cost $823,000 and featured a mind-reader, clowns, magicians and a red-carpet party, forced the ouster of several top GSA officials after the agency’s Office of Inspector General released its findings in April.

But months earlier, as word of the report was circulating among GSA officials, Ruth F. Cox, the agency’s regional administrator for several Western states, contacted a colleague in Washington asking what could be done to shield the report from public view.

READ MORE: Click here for an inside look at the Las Vegas conference.

“Is there something we can do to prevent another potential embarrassing episode from unfolding and keep this report from being made public?” she asked in an email obtained by The Washington Times.

Ms. Cox also expressed concern that the inspector general’s report was not entirely correct, though officials now say her comments were made before she saw the final report.

“We don’t need another $16 muffin public allegation that is eventually proven wrong and the damage is already done (and exacerbated by making a false allegation),” she wrote in an email she deemed “highly confidential.”

Ms. Cox was referring to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which reviewed conference expenditures and later retracted one widely publicized finding concerning muffins initially reported to have cost $16 each.

Adam Elkington, an agency spokesman, said Tuesday that Ms. Cox made the comments in the email before the release of the inspector general’s report and before “having any knowledge of the findings.”

GSA, including Ms. Cox, is appalled by the missteps highlighted in the IG’s report and have taken disciplinary action against those responsible, accepted all of the IG’s recommendations and continue to take steps to ensure this never happens again,” Mr. Elkington wrote in an email to The Times.

“We welcome oversight and will continue to be guided by the highest level of transparency. GSA’s new Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini initiated a top-to-bottom review of our agency’s operations. GSA remains committed to eliminating excessive federal spending and promoting government efficiency.”

In the email, Ms. Cox also referred to Jeffrey Neely, former acting administrator for the region, who played a key role in organizing the conference and was seen on video boasting about how much fun the federal workers were having in Las Vegas.

“I know Susan is not happy that Jeff received a relatively high performance evaluation and bonus given what transpired with the Western Regional Conference, but my concern at this point is not Jeff but the agency and the administration,” Ms. Cox wrote. “Making this public to punish Jeff with a side effect of unnecessarily exposing the agency doesn’t make sense to me.”

In her email, Ms. Cox also said she shared concerns within the agency about Mr. Neely, who was facing scrutiny because of his agency-funded trips to Hawaii and other Pacific destinations.

The correspondence reflects early recognition within GSA about the potential impact of public disclosure and embarrassment for the administration. Officials were right to be concerned. Among those forced out in the wake of the scandal were former GSA Commissioner Martha Johnson; a top adviser, Stephen Leeds; and Robert Peck, chief of GSA’s Public Buildings Service.

Soon after the audit was released, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew issued a statement condemning the expenditures and noting that Mr. Obama was outraged.

Ms. Cox was named regional administrator for the Pacific Rim in August, overseeing more than 1,000 employees and 1,200 government-owned and -leased buildings in California, Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada, as well as in overseas posts in Guam, Japan and American Samoa.

According to an agency biography, she was executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association before joining GSA. She also has worked as executive director of the 21st Century Democrats and in the Obama-Biden transition team’s office of intergovernmental affairs.

Meanwhile, Congress has held several hearings on the conference, including one where Mr. Neely, no longer employed by the agency, refused to testify and invoked his rights under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.

The agency came under renewed scrutiny this week after members of Congress questioned more than $1 million in bonuses handed out to GSA employees who were being investigated for wrongdoing or misconduct.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, released information about the bonuses Monday and said the review would be broadened to include other federal agencies.

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has called on GSA to detail hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses paid out to “virtual” employees, including supervisors, who worked out of the office.


Thanks to Harry Reid, illegal aliens will continue to receive IRS refunds – National Immigration Reform |

Harry Reid - Caricature

Harry Reid – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Thanks to Harry Reid, illegal aliens will continue to receive IRS refunds – National Immigration Reform |

By Dave Gibson


On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked a move to bring the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act (S577) to the floor, and in doing so, assured that those working in this country illegally will continue to receive billions of dollars in tax refunds for children that do not even live in this country.

In 2011, U.S. Treasury Department Inspector General Russell George released a report revealing that the Internal Revenue Service doled out $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits to illegal alien in 2010 alone.

The refunds were given in the form of the so-called ‘earned income child tax credits,’ which are designed to alleviate the tax burden on low income wage earners with children.

The problem has arisen through the use of individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) which many illegal aliens use as they are not authorized to work in the United States and do not have legitimate Social Security numbers.

In fact, the audit showed that 72 percent of tax returns filed by those using taxpayer identification numbers, rather than Social Security numbers claimed the child tax credit.

The report states: “The payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy.”

The Inspector General recommended that the IRS require those claiming the credit to prove that they are actually eligible to work here legally.

However, IRS management claims that they have no legal authority to ask for such proof when processing individual income tax forms.

After it became clear that the Obama administration would not move to close this loophole, the Inspector General asked that Congress take action to do so.

While the House of Representatives has passed legislation to to this end, Reid’s refusal to allow a vote on the measure in the Senate assures the problem will remain for at least another year.

In a press release, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who co-sponsored S577, stated: “I’m disappointed that the Majority Leader objected to our effort today to prevent billions in tax credits from being wrongly sent to illegal immigrants claiming they have dependents, many of whom do not live in the US. This should not be a partisan issue: it is wrong for the government to use Americans’ tax dollars to directly subsidize illegality, especially at a time when our nation is spending so much money we don’t have.”

Sessions also pointed out that the $4 billion being given to illegal aliens by way of the tax credit loophole is “roughly the same amount the President proposes to raise annually by instituting the new Warren Buffett Tax.”

So, for now illegal aliens will continue to get billions in tax refunds for not only their own children, but in many cases for their nieces and nephews who still live in Mexico.

Of course, this is not the first time Sen. Reid has used his powerful position to work on behalf of illegal aliens…

» Malkin: White House Lied, Jobs Died » Commentary — GOPUSA

» Malkin: White House Lied, Jobs Died » Commentary — GOPUSA.

By Michelle Malkin

While the White House and its media water-carriers try to distract the American public with gay-marriage talk and half-century-old tales of Mitt Romney’s prep school pranks, the inconvenient truth remains: President Obama is responsible for perpetrating jaw-dropping, job-killing scientific fraud. And his minions are still trying to cover it up.

New internal e-mails disclosed by the House Natural Resources Committee this week show that a supposedly exculpatory report on the administration’s doctored drilling moratorium analysis — issued by the Department of Interior’s Inspector General‘s office — was itself incomplete, misleading and unsubstantiated. Even more damning, the documents reveal that the White House actively blocked investigators and refuses to comply with subpoenas.

Now, as one senior IG agent warned his bosses, “the chickens may be coming home to roost.”

A quick refresher: After the BP oil spill in 2010, the White House imposed a radical six-month moratorium on America’s entire deepwater drilling industry. The overbroad ban — inserted into a technical safety document in the middle of the night by Obama’s green extremists — cost an estimated 19,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in lost wages.

The anti-drilling administration based its draconian order on recommendations from an expert oil spill panel. But that panel’s own members (along with the federal judiciary) called out then-eco czar Carol Browner for misleading the public about the scientific evidence and “contributing to the perception that the government’s findings were more exact than they actually were.” Browner and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar oversaw the false rewriting of the drilling ban report to completely misrepresent the Obama-appointed panel’s own overwhelming scientific objections to the job-killing edict.

Federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana blasted the Obama Interior Department for defying his May 2010 order to lift its fraudulent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. He called out the administration’s culture of contempt and “determined disregard” for the law.

Ever since, GOP watchdogs have attempted to hold administration officials accountable for the drilling ban fraud. In November 2010, the DOI Inspector General issued a report cited by Salazar to argue that any editing of the drilling ban report was unintentional and mistaken. But e-mails from IG senior agent Richard Larrabee released by the House Natural Resources Committee flatly contradict Salazar.

“I truly believe the editing WAS intentional — by an overzealous staffer at the White House. And, if asked, I, as the case agent, would be happy to state that opinion to anyone interested,” Larrabee wrote.

He noted that the IG report failed to mention that investigators were unable to independently validate e-mails supplied by Salazar’s office — and that the report was “simply silent” about how the White House blocked investigators’ attempts to interview one of Browner’s chief henchmen, Joe Aldy. “Well, it will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on these things, or cares about them,” Larrabee wrote.

Well, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., cares. In a letter to the DOI Inspector General’s office, Hastings blasted the stonewallers who have hid in the dark for more than a year. “The IG report is being used by the Obama Administration and others as a defense that this matter has already been investigated and resolved. These emails contradict that claim and raise new questions on whether the IG’s investigation was as thorough and complete as it should have been,” Hastings wrote.

The actual drafts of the drilling moratorium report and the communications between senior Interior Department officials and White House political appointees remain out of public view. “To date, the Interior Department has never had to disclose documents to the IG or to Congress,” Hastings noted. “Despite the President’s pledge of transparency, this Administration has not answered questions by anyone on how this decision was made that forced thousands of Americans out of work and cost millions of dollars in lost economic activity.”

This election isn’t just about jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s about the lies, lies, lies that have led to massive job destruction — and the ruthless corruptocrats using our tax dollars to whitewash their radical green agenda.

But will anything happen? – Tea Party Nation

Gsa seal

Gsa seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But will anything happen? – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

Darryl Issa and other Congressmen are kicking off an investigation into the out of control Government Services Administration and the GSA’s blatant and possibly criminal misuse of taxpayer dollars.

 Well, it is about time but will anything happen?

 From Fox News:

 Congress will kick off a wave of what are likely to be contentious hearings Monday on the spending habits of the General Services Administration, as lawmakers try to uncover how the agency blew through $820,000 on a Las Vegas conference.

 The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of four panels probing the incident, has set the first hearing for Monday afternoon. The panel has called some of the top current and former GSA officials to testify, though at least one is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions.

 Lawmakers at this point are looking beyond the 2010 conference itself and into other areas where the agency may have spent money imprudently, such as on employee incentive programs. The hearing will surely fuel the controversy, which has expanded almost daily as new details emerge about the decision-making at the top levels of the GSA.

 Among those on the witness list Monday are GSA Inspector General Brian Miller and former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, who resigned in the wake of the inspector general’s report on the conference.

 The head of the GSA western region who organized the conference, Jeffrey Neely, has said through an attorney that he plans to plead the Fifth. His attorney says Neely doesn’t need to come to D.C., but Issa insists he should appear anyway.

  While Obama is still President, do not expect any real changes in the GSA. 

 But Congress can act. 

 The left always uses the excuse of waste, fraud and abuse to cut the Defense budget.  Well you have some serious waste, fraud and abuse here.  The solution is to cut the GSA’s budget.  In fact, why not just eliminated this agency?

 Just line out the money the agency uses and fire all of the employees.  It is tough but we taxpayers are pretty angry about the way our tax dollars are being spent. 

 Judging from those videos we saw, having those GSA employees lose their jobs; well, that’s no great loss.