U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and IRS party hard at your expense

From Judicial Watch:

Videos Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal Costumed Parodies, Playacting at GSA

From the latest edition of “federal officials gone wild”…

Judicial Watch recently obtained more than a half-dozen newly uncovered videos from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) which show senior GSA officials and staff participating in costumed playacting and parodies – on the taxpayers’ dime of course.

Owing to the absolutely ridiculous nature of these videos, our discovery made major headlines nationwide, including Politico, The Huffington Post and The Daily MailThe Associated Press, which broke our big story, is syndicated in hundreds of newspapers nationwide, and many other media outlets. 

These videos provide clear (and bizarre) evidence of GSA’s extravagance, which, along with a scandalous 2010 Las Vegas regional conference, were revealed in a scathing April 2012 inspector general (IG) report. At one time, you could actually access these videos on the GSA’s own website. Then came the release of the IG Report excoriating GSA’s Vegas party spending, and the videos suddenly disappeared. Until now.JW obtained the videos in response to a June 15, 2012, FOIA request seeking videos produced by the GSA’s Northeast Region (known as Region 2) from 2011 through June 2012. Because the agency failed to timely respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, Judicial Watch

filed a lawsuit on May 23, 2013.

And I think when you view the videos for yourself, you’ll see why the Obama administration attempted to shield them from public disclosure. They show a wide variety of costly and embarrassing videotaped performances by senior GSA officials and employees, including:

  • The Rocky Jog – With the Rocky movie theme blaring in the background, senior GSA officials lead employees on an extended jog through the corridors of the GSA’s New York office and the streets of Manhattan.
The jog is initiated by Ben Kochanski, Deputy Regional Commissioner, GSA Public Buildings Service, whose 2012 salary was $141,066.Kochanski is then joined by Joanna Rosato, Regional Commissioner of GSA Public Buildings Service, whose 2012 salary was $164,500. Many additional GSA employees then join these two senior officials.

  • Directors Meeting – GSA employee tries conducting a seminar for a room full of screeching GSA employees/monkeys who continue drinking and partying until he joins them in a dance routine.
  • Rap Music Video – GSA official transforms into a rap singer to explain to young employees the need for additional revenue.
  • Jeopardy – GSA officials and employees participate in an elaborate Jeopardy game show parody, complete with theme music, light-up board, and canned audience applause.
  • The “Leasefather” – GSA employees parody the baker scene from “The Godfather” movie with supplicant pleading for Don Tony (stroking stuffed cat) to give him justice.
  • Mission Impossible – Former GSA official Ashley Cohen portrays Jim Phelps in a “Mission Impossible” TV show parody with blaring theme, lit matches, and an exploding tape recorder.
  • Sherlock Holmes – After an opening with stock footage from Universal Studios, GSA employees costumed as Holmes and Watson conduct a lengthy discussion.

Now I ask you. What do these videos have to do with the proper and efficient functioning of the GSA? Absolutely nothing, of course. Which is why our client, GSA whistleblower Linda Shenwick brought these videos to our attention. Ms. Shenwick objected to frivolous expenditures in the GSA’s Region 2 (which covers the entire Northeast and the Caribbean), the office which produced the videos and earned the ire of her GSA leadership in the process.

Rather than discouraging this juvenile behavior, GSA had a policy of encouraging and rewarding employees who produced and performed in the controversial videos.

And what happened to Ms. Shenwick, who was merely attempting to prevent fraud inside the agency for which she worked? She has since been demoted and isolated, shifted from the agency’s senior executive suite to an office in the agency’s child care center. (Judicial Watch is helping Ms. Shenwick to pursue a whistleblower case against the GSA with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.)

All of this from an agency that touts itself as an “innovation engine” to help the government cut costs!

With respect to the nearly $1 million Las Vegas extravaganza, the event featured not only costly videos similar to those just uncovered by JW, but also luxury accommodations for employees and their loved ones, fine cuisine, parties and expensive gifts. Dozens of agency workers were also awarded cash bonuses for arranging the event, which the Region 9 Commissioner/Acting Regional Administrator had ordered to be “over the top.”

Mission accomplished there.

Disclosure of the Las Vegas event and other abuses led to the removal of some GSA officials, but the agency officials who produced these videos still have their jobs. President Obama is seeking at least $250 million dollars for the GSA in his most recent budget.

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of shameless waste in the form of ridiculous videos and other questionable expenses inside the Obama administration.

As I reported to you a few weeks back, the IRS bankrolled a Star Trek parody video at a cost of $50,187! The agency also produced a video of IRS division managers dancing on stage and spent $44,500 for two speakers, one of whom was paid to create paintings on stage of Michael Jordan and Albert Einstein.

These funds were expended during a 2010 IRS conference that cost American taxpayers $4.1 million overall.

The activities of the GSA and the IRS are further examples of a bloated federal government completely out of control. Clearly the new GSA administrator will have his work cut out for him if this pattern of preposterous waste is to be curtailed.

Our client Linda Shenwick has done her best to alert GSA to these abuses but her efforts were ignored by GSA leadership. Federal employees such as Ms. Shenwick, who alert senior officials to this type of wasteful nonsense, are punished and vilified. As these newly uncovered videos demonstrate, there clearly needs to be a more thorough housecleaning at GSA. In fact, every agency in this administration is due for a good scrubbing.

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About unclevladdi

Vojvoda
This entry was posted in politics, propaganda, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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