Martha Johnson, the chief of the General Services Administration, resigned yesterday amid reports that a four-day 2010 conference in Nevada cost taxpayers $820,000. The agency, which oversees administrative and management duties for the government, also fired two top staffers and suspended four managers for the wild weekend just outside of Las Vegas, after which, “GSA employees created an internal website that featured photos and videos of the conference highlights. It was not taken down until last week.”
Administrators reportedly called for the 300-person event to be “‘over the top,’ bigger and better than previous conferences” — that included a mind reader, a clown, sushi, and lots of drinking.
Obama, according to a spokesperson, “was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars” and called for “all those responsible to be held fully accountable.” Johnson acknowledged a “significant misstep” and admitted, “Taxpayer dollars were squandered.”
It sounds like quite the party, via the Associated Press:
Planners spent $31,000 on a “networking reception” that featured $19-per-person “American artisanal cheese display” and a $7,000 in sushi. Taxpayers also footed the bill for a $3,200 session with a mind reader, $5,600 for in-room parties, $3,700 for T-shirts and almost $2,800 in water bottles.
A separate cocktail reception included $1,500 for “Boursin scalloped potato with Barolo wine-braised short ribs” and a $525 bartender fee for a cash bar. A senior official spent $2,700 to entertain other employees after the closing dinner. And three officials spent almost $400 for rented tuxedos.
If they got a psychic instead of a plain old mind reader, everyone would’ve seen this mess coming.