The government official on the frontlines of the scandal involving a wasteful government conference, U.S. General Services Administration regional commissioner Jeffrey Neely, will invoke his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, his lawyer Preston Burton tells ABC News. He won’t comment on the $822,751 conference, many of the expenditures for which the GSA Inspector General called “excessive” and “wasteful.” He won’t comment on the bizarre awards ceremony, or the commemorative coins, the mind-reader/motivational speaker.
Mr. Neely bares a bit more in a photo collection on his wife’s Google+ page. There visitors can see photos of Neely staying in a luxurious suite at the M Resort Spa & Casino in November 2009, during one of the eight scouting and off-site pre-conference meetings to prepare for the October 2010 conference.
The eight pre-conference trips alone cost the government $130,000, according to the GSA Inspector General’s investigation of the 2010 conference. Inspector General Brian Miller has referred his case to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation.
GSA spokesman Adam Elkington refrained from commenting on the photographs, and Neely attorney Burton also declined to comment.
The pictures suggest Neely and his wife rather enjoyed their stay at the luxurious M hotel, where the conference was ultimately held. The controversy surrounding the wasteful spending at the conference has cost GSA administration Martha Johnson her job, with other GSA officials such as Neely put on administrative leave. The 31 pictures on Deborah Neely’s Google+ page are contained in the album “M Hotel@Vegas Nov2009.”
The pictures show the Neelys enjoying their stay at the hotel, with Neely primping in the bathroom mirror, enjoying the delicious room service wares, and taking in a soak in the “spa tub.” The Inspector General’s report states that “GSA spending on conference planning was excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible. To select a venue and plan the conference, GSA employees conducted two ‘scouting trips,’ five off-site planning meetings, and a “dry run.” Six of these planning events took place at the M Resort (the conference venue) itself. Travel expenses for conference planning totaled $100,405.37, and catering costs totaled over $30,000. GSA spent money on refreshment breaks during the planning meetings, which it had no authority to do, and the cost of catered meals at those meetings exceeded per diem limits.”
The GSA inspector general noted that during scouting trips, GSA “VIPs” “were shown upgraded suites that they received as a perk for GSA contracting with the M Resort” for the conference. “Loft suites have 2,400 square feet of space, two stories, multiple HD televisions and wet bars, and a going rate of $1,179 per night. Flat suites have 1,440 square feet and cost $449-$599 per night. The contract between GSA and the M Resort provided that GSA could have two loft suites for five nights each at the government rate for hotel rooms; GSA used all but one of those nights. GSA also received six flat suites for five nights each at the government room rate, and used 25 of those room-nights. The value of the discount that the M Resort offered GSA for these 40 nights was $21,540.”
The pictures appear to be of a flat suite, one that the Neelys seemed quite impressed by, given how many photos they took of the accommodations.