|Jonathan Easley||April 14th 2012|
A General Services Administration executive will assert his right to remain silent at a hearing on Monday to investigate the lavish Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of Administrator Martha Johnson and other top officials. Jeffrey Neeley, the commissioner for the Public Buildings Service in the Pacific Rim region, was placed on leave and may face criminal charges for his role in planning the October 2010 conference. Neeley was subpoenaed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, but committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that Neeley’s lawyer, Preston Burton, said that his client would invoke his privilege to not testify against himself.
An anonymous Oversight committee official also told Bloomberg that Neeley has been referred to the Department of Justice. The hearing — titled "Addressing GSA’s Culture of Wasteful Spending" — is scheduled for Monday. GSA officials are expected to testify on the $823,000 conference, which included spending for a clown, a mind reader and the manufacture of commemorative coins awarded to employees. Issa’s office has also unearthed two videos, made at taxpayer expense, filmed by GSA employees for the conference.One video shows employees of the federal agency joke that their environmentally friendly initiatives were intended to earn the president good press. In the video, office workers are shown singing about green initiatives in various scenes staged around the GSA office. "POTUS wants a press event, a project he can show … are you ready for a miracle? GSA is going green," employees sing while seated around a conference table, waving a framed picture of the president. Some are shown wearing costumes or intentionally ridiculous accessories, like a rainbow sombrero.
After the movie, footage from the conference is shown, where Neely jokes, "That was amazing, was there anybody in Region 7 who wasn’t in that thing?" A GSA employee is then shown saying that almost everyone who worked the Friday the video was filmed made an appearance, drawing laughter from the crowd.