GSA parts ways with host of $823K conference

Former GSA employees in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, prior to testifying before a House Transportation subcommittee hearing to investigate an excessive conference at a Las Vegas resort by GSA officials. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

(AP) WASHINGTON - The General Services Administration executive who was responsible for a lavish, $823,000 conference in Las Vegas is no longer with the GSA, the agency confirmed Thursday.

GSA spokesman Adam Elkington would not say whether Jeffrey Neely resigned or was fired from the agency that is in charge of federal buildings and supplies.

The GSA inspector general previously referred Neely's case to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation. Neely's departure would have no effect on the Justice Department's inquiry.

Neely had been placed on administrative leave in April as buildings commissioner for the Pacific Rim region. An inspector general's report on waste and abuse at the 2010 Las Vegas conference sparked hearings by several congressional committees. Neely angered lawmakers by refusing to testify and asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

The Las Vegas conference featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending.

Ex-GSA official says he didn't know taxpayers would be billed for party

The scandal led to the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, the firing of two top aides and the placing of nine others on administrative leave.

A GSA official who was not authorized to be quoted by name on personnel matters said four others have left the agency following their participation in the 2010 conference. The GSA has proposed to remove another four.

"GSA is in the process of completing its review of activities associated with the Western Regions Conference and pursuing all available avenues for appropriate disciplinary action against those responsible," the GSA spokesman said. "Jeff Neely was placed on administrative leave based on his involvement in the WRC (Western Regions Conference). As of today, he's no longer employed with GSA."

Calls to Neely's attorney were not immediately returned late Thursday.

Former employees like Neely can be prevented from participation in federal contracts and grants. Such action is under consideration in Neely's case, the official said.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he would introduce legislation to deal with federal executives who refuse to cooperate with Congress.

"After some delay, Mr. Neely is rightfully no longer on the taxpayers' tab," Mica said. "In order to deal with this type of situation in the future, I plan to introduce legislation that will allow the immediate termination of senior level executives who violate their oaths of office by refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations or to testify before Congress."



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