The wife of the government official at the center of the General Services Administration party scandal regularly accompanied him on trips at taxpayers expens, it has been revealed.
And Deborah Neely even impersonated another GSA official at one trade show, wearing the woman’s nametag so she could gain admission, the Washington Post reports.
Neely is the wife of Jeffrey Neely, the acting commissioner of the GSA’s Pacific Rim region, who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights before a Congress oversight committee hearing on Monday. Neely is currently on administrative leave.
She even “handled party arrangements and directed event planners to spend government money and arranged lodging for relatives,” the Post reports.
The scandal has so far centered on a conference for 300 people in Las Vegas, that cost taxpayers $823,000. The taxpayer shelled out for private parties, bicycles, $6,000-worth of commemorative coins and even a mind reader, it has now emerged.
And the Post said Mrs. Neely overspent on other conferences and “openly condoned perks for managers and their family members.”
The GSA is the behind-the-scenes agency that organizes office space, transportation, communications and supplies for government workers. Neely, who was head of its office in San Francisco, received a $9,000 bonus after the Vegas conference.
The Post said the Neelys took a 17-day government-funded trip to Hawaii, Guam and the Mariana Islands to coincide with a birthday. “It’s yo birfday. . . . We gonna pawty like iz yo birfday!” Deborah Neely wrote in an e-mail to her husband.
Brian Miller, the inspector whose report first blew the lid off the spending told the Post: “If you have to travel, it’s permissible if a family member stays in your hotel room and you pay for that family member’s travel.
“But to plan travel for a birthday is totally impermissible.”
The Post said that Sherry Hutchinson, a member of Neely’s staff, was unable to attend a trade show in Long Beach, Calif., in 2010, so Neely arranged for his wife to go instead, even wearing Hutchinson’s nametag. “You will be Sherry,” Neely wrote in an email to his wife.
“We probably shouldn’t have done that,” Neely told investigators.
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