Rep. Chaffetz: Neely's behavior is outrageous

Utah congressman on GSA hearing


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



VARNEY: Catch the word Jeff Neely? He's the man of the hour, the GSA official who coordinated that now notorious D.C.-Vegas conference.

Apparently, he had no trouble spending over $800,000 on the four-day soiree, reportedly telling investigators he was paying for quality, and that includes $2,700 he spent on a private party in his hotel suite. But traveling from California to Washington, D.C., to testify today, well, that is another story.

Neely’s attorney saying -- quote -- "Requiring Mr. Neely to travel from California to appear before the committee when you have been advised that he will not answer any substantive questions posed to him doesn’t advance any legitimate committee purpose."

So wasting tax dollars on a clown and mind-reader, that is OK. Spending on travel to Washington, D.C., to testify about it, that is not.

Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is a member of the Oversight Committee looking into all of this.

Your first reaction to Mr. Neely, sir?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: This is absolutely government at its worst. The audacity of not just him but others within that agency to go out and so grossly spend the American taxpayers' money and then when I questioned the former administrator, the person had to resign in disgrace, Ms. Johnson, and I said, why did you give him a bonus -- he got a $9,000 bonus -- she said he was entitled to it.

I have never -- I have not been offended to that degree in a long time, Stuart. That is so on obnoxious, it just drives me crazy.

VARNEY: Again, I go back to the timing of this, because just over the weekend, a lot of people were paying their taxes to the IRS, paying their taxes.


VARNEY: And now they see Mr. Neely in a hot tub apparently on the taxpayer dime with a couple of drinks right there next to him. The timing is very bad and I think really think this is causing some real outrage and I think you share -- I think you reflect that and I can hear it in your voice.

CHAFFETZ: Well, you have to remember this incident took place in 2010, and this guy is still a government employee. And the idea that he has not been fired at this point is just so outrageous, Stuart.

They literally spent hundreds of thousands getting clowns and other types of things. There is just total disregard in respect for the taxpayers’ money. The Obama administration, this is a theme through a lot of different investigations now they do not seem to fire anyone. Instead, they hire more people.

And there are 140,000 additional federal workers since President Obama took office and you see this kind of massive spending and then people have to write their own checks to fund it. It is just absolutely intolerable.

VARNEY: Do you know if Mr. Neely is still being paid.


CHAFFETZ: No, he is being paid.

VARNEY: He is being paid?

CHAFFETZ: Yes. No, he still collects a check and he makes six figures. That is the thing that is so outrageous. He is still getting paid. He got a $9,000 bonus for all of his supposed great work. It is ridiculous, Stuart.

VARNEY: Well, let me play the other side of the fence just for one second. This is one agency, it is one conference, and you could say that some of the videos that we show so frequently are self-mocking, not mocking the taxpayer, but self-mocking. That is the other side of the coin. How do you respond?

CHAFFETZ: No. They were using taxpayer dollars and taxpayer time to do this and they had two $30,000 expenses that were used to have the sort of events and award ceremonies which really look like fiction.

They were not actually doing any work. Think about it. They spent over $800,000. There were 300 people there. And Mr. Neely and others took eight, eight trips to Las Vegas to scout out where they were going to do this.

It used to be in Oklahoma City, but now it’s suddenly in Las Vegas? Come on. Give me a break.

VARNEY: Is this an indictment of the way government workers behaved in the Obama administration or of all government workers over many, many years because that is their psyche and that is their approach to work and spending taxpayer money? Which is it?

CHAFFETZ: I hope it is isolated.

There are a lot of good, hardworking, patriotic, frugal government employees out there, but we have too many government employees doing this that it destroys the reputation of the United States of America. Remember, the GSA had a budget of $595 million to operate on an annual basis. The Obama administration gave them a $6 billion stimulus to go out and spend and then the administrator come back and said we need another $80 million increase in our budget. And they are just, they cannot spend the money fast enough. That is one of the problems with the stimulus and part of the problem with the Obama administration, there doesn’t seem to be oversight. And then when we find the problem, they do not fire them, and they are continuing to take a paycheck.

VARNEY: Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, thank you for joining us, sir. Appreciate it.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Stuart.

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