In a year-long investigation, the General Services Administration is finally feeling the heat from a lavish conference. GSA held a conference in Las Vegas in 2010 in which they spent $31,208 from federal funds on a clown and mind reader. Needless to say, the GSA is now receiving some backlash for their lavish spending. In light of the scandal, the chief of GSA has resigned, two top deputies have been fired and four managers were placed on leave, reports the Washington Post.
Those forced out of position were GSA chief Martha Johnson, Public Buildings Service chief Robert A. Peck, and Johnson's top adviser, Stephen Leeds.
Johnson admitted to the squandering taxpayer dollars, with her resignation letter stating that she knew the agency had made a significant misstep. She continued that she must step aside as administrator so that the agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team.
The total amount of money spent on the training conference came to $823,000. Besides the money spent on a clown and mind reader, GSA employees spent $130,000 just to scout out locations for the convention, an additional $30,000 for catering and $2,000 for a party in Peck's suite. The Federal Times reports that a commemorative coin sets displayed in velvet boxes totaled $6,300 and a training exercise to build a bike cost $75,000. Conference attendees were also treated to a $44 per person breakfast and $95 per person closing reception dinner.
The Washington Post reports that the event planners had violated the federal limits on conference spending.
Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew told the Washington Post that President Obama was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars. Lew continued that Obama believed that those responsible be held fully accountable.