Mica schedules hearing to probe lavish $800K GSA conference

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that he would hold a hearing as soon as possible to explore Monday's report that the General Services Administration (GSA) held an $800,000 conference in Las Vegas in 2010.

Mica's announcement was a reaction to a Monday report from GSA's inspector general on the conference, which led to GSA Administrator Martha Johnson's resignation and the firing of several employees.

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"It is outrageous that this agency, which costs the taxpayers billions because it's sitting on its assets, would spend nearly a million dollars on a Vegas junket," Mica said. "The tab even included a clown for entertainment. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have been trying to get the administrative costs from the agency and now we see why they have been stonewalling."

Among other things, the IG report said GSA spent $136,000 on pre-conference "scouting trips," $75,000 on a "team building" contract, $146,000 on catered food, thousands on luxury rooms that Mica says may have been impermissible, and expensive gifts the GSA handed out as momentos. The report also said the GSA spent more than $3,000 on a mind reader as part of the entertainment.

"I wonder if the $3,200 mind reader told GSA officials that blowing more than $800,000 on a Vegas conference for a few hundred bureaucrats would get them fired?" Mica asked.

"This may explain why the administration has been stonewalling the committee's travel budget information requests since December," Mica added. "This agency may have been hoping that everything that happened in Vegas would stay in Vegas."

Mica did not set a firm date for the hearing, but said it could take place the week of April 16, when the House returns from recess.