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Forget our Veterans and their needs, VA spends $5 million on 2 employee conferences last year. Oh yeah, Our country is broke.

Posted by on Aug. 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM
  • 5 Replies

Watchdog: Issa demands answers from VA on 'Patton' parody

Gen. George Patton probably would not be pleased with a parody video paid for with tax dollars by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But there is no doubt about where U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa stands on it.

Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wants detailed documents from the VA on its spending on two conferences in Orlando last year that cost a combined $5 million.

Particularly irksome to Issa is the $52,000 allegedly spent by the VA to pay a professional actor and production company for an 18-minute video satirizing the opening scene of the 1970 film for which George C. Scott won an Academy Award. (See the original scene from the film in the embedded video player below.)

Issa wants a copy of the satire and an explanation. In a letter toSecretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Issa called allegations about the Orlando conferences "eerily similar" to those involving the scandalous 2010 General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas.

That gathering became infamous after the GSA Inspector General (IG) revealed in April that top administrators wasted taxpayer money on private parties, unnecessary pre-conference travel and gimmicks like a $75,000 bicycle building exercise.

In the letter sent last week to Shinseki, Issa noted that even before the GSA scandal, President Obama warned federal officials that "you cannot take a trip to Las Vegas or go to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."

Issa said that rebuke from the president in 2009 "should have deterred event organizers at GSA and VA from wasting taxpayer dollars on things like mind readers, clowns and Patton parody videos."

Improper expenses appear to extend beyond Patton parodies, according to Issa, who met with Shinseki to discuss the allegations of conference waste earlier this month.

The VA allegedly spent $84,000 on promotional items such as pens, highlighters and hand sanitizer. At least seven agency officials in Washington also took government-paid trips to Nashville, Dallas and Orlando to scout out conference locations.

Some VA officials may also have received improper gifts from hotels under consideration as conference sites, including show tickets and helicopter rides, according to Issa.

The VA investigation began in April, according to Catherine Gromek, spokeswoman for the department's IG. Tipsters contacted the office's hotline to report excessive spending on the two human resources training conferences held in July and August 2011 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando.

Issa demanded detailed conference spending records from 24 cabinet departments and federal agencies in April, about a week after the GSA report was issued.

In his letter to Shinseki, the congressman noted the VA had yet to deliver the documents.

VA spokesman Joshua Taylor declined to comment on the IG investigation.

A written statement issued previously by VA called the allegations of waste "unacceptable," and said Shinseki vowed to "hold accountable any individuals who are found to have misused taxpayer dollars or violated our standards of conduct."

The VA also has stripped all purchasing authority from any employee in the unit under investigation.

Follow all the work of the Washington Examiner Watchdog team -- now on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter (@WshExWatchdog).

Contact Mark Flatten at mflatten@washingtonexaminer.com.

by on Aug. 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM
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Replies (1-5):
_Kissy_
by on Aug. 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM
The only investigation that needs to be happening, is why the trickle down effect hasn't happened yet.
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ExecutiveChick
by Silver Member on Aug. 22, 2012 at 2:24 PM
This is IMHO, THEFT! Theft from our Vets.
mehamil1
by on Aug. 22, 2012 at 2:32 PM

The government is not broke. Not by a long shot. They just spend the money like corrupt assholes because there's so little regulation and oversight and the American people don't get pissed off enough to do something about it. 

ExecutiveChick
by Silver Member on Aug. 22, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Our Government borrows 60 cents of every dollar it spends. They are running over a Trillion dollar deficit for the 4th year in a row.

They have spent all of the money in the Medicare and Social Security "Trust Funds"

I don't know how you run your household or business but if I ran either of mine this way, I would be broke.

Spending more money than you have or can bring in... That is BROKE!

Quoting mehamil1:

The government is not broke. Not by a long shot. They just spend the money like corrupt assholes because there's so little regulation and oversight and the American people don't get pissed off enough to do something about it. 


mehamil1
by on Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:17 PM
1 mom liked this

The national budget is not like a household budget. Not even close. The way our economy works, you must borrow money and spend money to make money. That's how it's set up. I personally have no control over it and I don't even agree with it. But that's the way it is, simplified yes. But this government and economy is run more like a business and not at all like a household. 

I do not believe that the medicare and social security trust funds are all spent. I have read so much conflicting reports on that and I have made up my mind that the "raid" on those trust funds are propaganda from the right. The money is there but it is not being managed well. Hardly anything in this government or this economy is being run well. And those who are running it badly still have a job. Part of the reason why they are still there is because of corruption. And it's not just Obama, he is part of a grander scheme. He is part of this disfunctional system as a whole. Not just one single individual who is doing a horrible job. They are ALL doing a horrible job. And we the people are allowing it. 

Quoting ExecutiveChick:

Our Government borrows 60 cents of every dollar it spends. They are running over a Trillion dollar deficit for the 4th year in a row.

They have spent all of the money in the Medicare and Social Security "Trust Funds"

I don't know how you run your household or business but if I ran either of mine this way, I would be broke.

Spending more money than you have or can bring in... That is BROKE!

Quoting mehamil1:

The government is not broke. Not by a long shot. They just spend the money like corrupt assholes because there's so little regulation and oversight and the American people don't get pissed off enough to do something about it. 


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