GSA Exec in Charge of $822,751 Las Vegas Conference Refuses to Give Even His Title to Oversight Cmte

April 16, 2012 - 5:05 PM

Jeffrey Neely

Jeffrey Neely, regional commissioner, public buildings service for the General Services Administration, refused to answer questions at a House hearing on April 16, 2012 about a conference that took place under his watch that was paid for with $823,000 of taxpayer money. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Jeffrey Neely, a regional commissioner with the General Services Administration, refused to answer any questions -- including one about his job title -- at a House hearing on Monday.

Neely was subpoenaed as part of a House investigation into a 2010 conference under his charge that sent 300 people to Las Vegas and racked up a tab of  $822,751, including a $75,000 bike-building event and $130,000 to send 15 scouts to pick the event venue.

Neely, who makes $179,000 annually as the regional GSA regional commissioner in charge of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, several other countries and territories, evoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when questioned by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee. Neely is now on administrative leave and is still receiving his salary.

Issa acknowledged at the hearing that he was informed that Neely, who was subpoenaed to testify, might evoke his constitutional right to remain silent.

Issa: “It is my understanding from your counsel that you may want to reserve your constitutional privilege to remain silent, it that correct?”

Neely: “Yes, Mr. Chairman, that is correct.”

Issa: “Mr. Neely, the topic of today’s hearing is a culture of waste and spending. You were uniquely positioned to provide testimony that will help the committee better understand GSA’s spending of more than $800,000 at a conference in Las Vegas in 2010. To that end, I must ask you once again to consider answering questions, so bear with me. Mr. Neely. What is your title at GSA?

Neely: Mr. Chairman, on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

Issa: Mr. Neely, did you attend the 2010 Western Regional Conference in Las Vegas?

Neely: Mr. Chairman, on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

Issa: Mr. Neely, did you approve of funding for the 2010 Western Regional Conference

Neely: Mr. Chairman, on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

The oversight committee is one of four congressional committees investigating the agency after a GSA Inspector General draft report released earlier this month revealed that $823,00 was spent on the five-day conference, including paying for clowns and mind readers.

On April 2, Martha Johnson, GSA Administration and an Obama appointee who also testified at the hearing, resigned ahead of the report’s release.

Public Buildings Service Chief Robert Peck and Johnson's top adviser, Stephen Leeds, were forced out after the scandal came to light.

“As the agency Congress has entrusted with developing the rules followed by other federal agencies for conferences, GSA has a special responsibility to set an example, and that did not occur here,” the inspector general concluded in its report.

The GSA is in charge of federal buildings and supplies and part of its mission is to save taxpayers money.