- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pointing to more evidence of the General Services Administration’s misuse of taxpayers dollars, a top House Republican said GSA officials flew to Hawaii on other taxpayer-funded junkets — in one instance spending a week or more on the islands for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony for a federal building.

The new information follows nearly two weeks worth of reports about the agency spending more than $800,000 on a conference in Las Vegas — news that cost several top GSA officials their jobs.

John Mica, a Florida Republican who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said several GSA officials flew to Hawaii for five to seven days in 2011 in order to attend an hour-long ribbon-cutting on space leased by the federal government. According to the GSA’s inspector general’s office, the employee interviewed said the trip was not an isolated incident, and said another, longer trip to Hawaii was planned but had not yet occurred.

“The Las Vegas conference was the tip of the iceberg, and every new example demonstrates the mind-boggling culture of waste and blatant disregard for the taxpayers’ money within GSA,” Mr. Mica said in a statement.

Since the GSA conference in Las Vegas first came to light in early April, Mr. Mica has been looking into other potential abuses at GSA, including an agency performance award program that doled out iPods, electronics and gift cards and cash bonuses. He plans to grill former GSA officials at a hearing Tuesday when Congress returns after a two-week recess.

“From what we’re learning, GSA has a whole laundry list of instances where they were abusing taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from California who chairs a Transportation subcommittee. “They were using tax dollars as a slush fund to pay for lavish parties and exotic vacations. This goes a lot farther and a lot deeper than what we’ve seen. I share in the public outrage and am committed to finding answer and taking appropriate action so this never happens again.”