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The end of the GSA? House committee chair: We've seen only the 'tip of the iceberg'

More outrage and revelations on government lavish spending at taxpayer expense emerge as inspector general testifies

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, the public flogging continues. And guess what? They deserve it! Tonight, is it the beginning of the end for the GSA? In day two of hearings on Capitol Hill, Congress once again barbecuing GSA officials for their agency's flagrant abuse of taxpayer money after the GSA spent almost a million dollars of your money on clowns, mind readers and luxurious vacations, several lawmakers now threatening to put an end not only to the waste but to the entire agency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JEFF DENHAM, R-CALIF.: If we continue to not only see this type of spending, we will continue to audit. If we continue to see that you're not giving us the information on a bipartisan level to show us how these expenditures are happening, I am prepared to systemically pull apart GSA to the point where we will make it a question to the American public on whether GSA is needed at all!

REP. TIM WALZ, D-MINN.: When they knew this was being done on, you know -- and I don't -- we can pick out the things, sushi or whatever, makes the highlight tonight or whatever. But 44 bucks for breakfast? I'm a big man. I can't spend 44 bucks for breakfast! Somebody had to say that. Are you kidding me? And then what it does is the American public believes every single employee and every single agency is corrupt and not doing what they're supposed to.

REP. JOHN MICA, R-FLA., TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I see why Mr. Neely is not with us today and the only pictures I can get of him are in his hot tub suite.

REP. LOU BARLETTA, R-PENN.: Here's the bigger problem and here's a news release. Big government doesn't work! It just doesn't work! This is not the way the private sector works! And I think what we need to be talking about, what do we do instead of the GSA? Because there's lots of abuse in the GSA and there's lots of abuse of other government agencies throughout this government. And I believe the $822,000 spent in Las Vegas by the GSA should be a farewell party! Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman John Mica is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. JOHN MICA, R-FLA., TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the thought of systemically pulling apart GSA -- I suppose we all would sort of like to get rid of GSA tonight, but that's rather impractical since somebody's got to run the physical structures of the government.

MICA: Well, you know, it's the biggest landlord in the world, the GSA. It runs all of our property that the people own. But how many people listening would turn over their property for the management by the federal government? I don't think many.

And what Mr. Denham and I have discussed is maybe taking apart GSA. What you've seen here is only the tip of the iceberg. They're sitting on billions of dollars worth of assets and losing money and the billions every year with vacant public buildings, some of them not too far from where we're sitting tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: But how did, you know, clowns and mind readers and iPods and bathtub nude pictures and glasses of wine -- how did -- why did it take that for all of a sudden you to realize there's billions of dollars being wasted?

MICA: Well, sometimes -- yes, sometimes that's what gets the media and the public's attention. We...

VAN SUSTEREN: But we're not -- we're not...

MICA: We held a...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: We don't have the oversight, though! You guys do! I mean...

MICA: Well, we just held a hearing -- I held a hearing in a vacant building that was vacant for 15 years a year ago. We had some attention to that. A few weeks before all this broke, Mr. Denham and I held a hearing in a vacant building...

VAN SUSTEREN: But what...

(CROSSTALK)

MICA: ... 89,000 square feet, vacant under GSA for over five years.

VAN SUSTEREN: But what happened? I mean, you held a hearing, but what happened? Did you do anything? Did anything happen or did you just hold a hearing?

MICA: Well, what we've done is we've also introduced legislation bracktack -- because GSA doesn't make a decision. They sit on these assets that are very valuable. They won't sell them. They won't lease them. They won't trade them. They won't make them have a return, rather than a loss for the taxpayers.

So what we did is we introduced a brack type of legislation, someone to make a decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which means that...

(CROSSTALK)

MICA: That's sitting over -- that's sitting over in the Senate. We passed it in the House. So we have held hearings. We've asked for the accounting of their money. They stonewalled us month after month. This has gone on for -- I've been chairman for a year and what, a quarter -- almost every single month except for the first month, and we held a first hearing in February over a year ago. They've stonewalled us.

Now we see why they didn't want to give us the details because the details are -- the devil is in the details. And now we're seeing the details of -- that's is just their administrative expenditures!

VAN SUSTEREN: And I think -- Senator McCaskill is coming up. I think she'll tell you the same thing -- she sent series of letters over the last at least year or so or two years and it's been a hard time getting information.

MICA: We've been stonewalled...

VAN SUSTEREN: Stonewalled.

MICA: ... both the House and the Senate.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, do you think the White House -- I mean, I know that -- I know that the White House heard about this last May. But do you in any way sort of, you know, assign blame to the White House on this?

MICA: Well, they were very quiet. I think this -- there was an attempt to brush this under the carpet, so to speak.

VAN SUSTEREN: In what way?

MICA: Well, they were informed, again -- it was -- the communications from the GSA counsel to the White House counsel, as you said, last May. Here it is what, not quite a year later, and it just comes out about a week ago. They knew about this.

And they were also told again to stop the nonsense, to stop waste and possible criminal activity. And nobody did anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: And now I suppose what they would say...

MICA: And they wouldn't tell us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right. No, I understand that. I suppose what the White House would say if the White House were here is that there was an inspector general was doing an investigation at the time. So perhaps didn't want to make a referral at the time.

MICA: He started the investigation -- Brita alerted them in November, after the October 2010 event, the convention.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that's six...

(CROSSTALK)

MICA: Yes, and he had six months to investigate. And he came up -- he had -- they had the evidence. They presented it to the White House. And there's been silence out of the White House until this was all disclosed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- why -- why didn't the inspector general -- does he not have the authority to refer this to the Justice Department...

(CROSSTALK)

MICA: There are referrals now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now! But I'm just saying...

MICA: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: It took...

MICA: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: It took some explosive scandal!

MICA: I'm telling you, I think that everything was done to keep this quiet, hush-hush. And God bless Ms. Brita, who worked for our committee. She went back the second time and blew the whistle on them. And only because one employee who did the right thing and pursued this with the inspector general did it ever come out.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I don't understand, though, even why some of these people who went to this conference didn't think something was awry. And you know, they can always send -- they can always send a note to the media.

MICA: Because...

VAN SUSTEREN: The media would be glad to seize upon this.

MICA: It seemed like it was standard operating procedure. You know, today we talked about a 17-day trip to Japan, to Atlanta, to Napa Valley. It goes on and on!

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: You'd think somebody...

MICA: It sounds like a ground tour.

VAN SUSTEREN: You'd think that he would have one sort of -- almost someone who didn't like him in the company who -- I mean, the government who would have at least outed him.

MICA: And they were told back in May to tell him and them to stop this wasteful spending. And nothing was done. They went right ahead and did it. The record is there. It's documented. So the White House, too, knew what was going on. Others knew what was going on, and they were never stopped. And he didn't have the decency to show up and even take the 5th today. So I said the only way we may get to see him is on a video in his hot tub!

VAN SUSTEREN: Frankly, saying he didn't have the decency...

MICA: At taxpayer expense.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... he didn't have the decency to show up -- if I were his lawyer, I would also suggest that he not show up because...

MICA: No, he showed up...

(CROSSTALK)

MICA: He showed up yesterday.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... yesterday. I know, but he's in deep trouble.

MICA: He will either be subpoenaed or I'll ask for his suspension because he's is still on the taxpayers' dole.

VAN SUSTEREN: But why is that? I mean, that's -- I mean, you know, that -- I mean, he doesn't have to be on the taxpayers' dole.

MICA: He should have been taken off the taxpayer dole.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you do that? Can you influence that?

MICA: He should have been taken off the taxpayer dole when the inspector general notified both the GSA administrator and the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you influence that at least now? Because we're paying him for today and tomorrow and...

MICA: I've been chairman of Civil Service for four years, and I can tell you it's just about impossible to fire a federal employee. There are so many appeals. There's so many levels.

VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe that's another thing to work on while you guys are trying to figure out what to do with GSA.

MICA: Too many people protecting people who don't do their jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

MICA: Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good luck, sir.

MICA: Thank you.