GSA Administrator Resigns Over Hiring a Clown, Other Excesses

This actually happened:

The chief of the General Services Administration is resigning and two of her top deputies have been fired amid reports of excessive spending at a training conference at a luxury hotel that featured a mind reader, a clown and a comedian.

(To see the collective Obama administration reaction to this behavior, click here.)

One of the main reasons the GSA exists is to develop government-wide cost-minimizing policies. Clearly, something went wrong.

Around 300 GSA employees attended the training conference, which took place at the four-star M Resort Spa Casino hotel outside Las Vegas in late 2010. Organizers blew $835,000 on the event, including nearly $150,000 in plane tickets and lodging for six “planning trips” made by the organizers. According to the Washington Post, some other expenses included “$3,200 for a mind reader; $6,300 on commemorative coin set displayed in velvet boxes and $75,000 on a training exercise to build a bicycle.”

Over the years, conservatives have made it their thing to portray government as a bloated organ of inefficiency and reckless spending. Hell, they popularized the myth of the Obama Justice Department’s “$16 muffin” to make the point about unelected bureaucrats blowing your hard-earned tax dollars on frivolous luxury items. But not even Matt Drudge’s wildest fantasies ever rose to the level of government officials hiring Vegas mindreaders and juggling jesters. It won’t take long for this humiliation to emerge as the next big meme on the anti-government right.

Ryan J. Reilly at Talking Points Memo has a solid rundown of some other “over the top” gems from the Vegas trip. Here’s the GSA inspector general’s report on the scandal:

Final Management Deficiency Report_WRC_2012 April 2 (508 Compliant)

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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