Key figure in lavish Vegas junket leaves GSA

May 26, 2012

By Jim McElhatton-The Washington Times

Jeffrey Neely, the central figure in a lavish taxpayer-funded Las Vegas convention that saw magic acts and federal workers sipping martinis on a red carpet, has left the General Services Administration (GSA).

The departure comes as scrutiny on the 2010 conference intensifies and weeks after Mr. Neely, a GSA regional commissioner, refused to testify before Congress, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The GSA’s Office of Inspector General uncovered massive waste and has declined to release its investigatory files on the conference in response to an open-records request, citing an ongoing law enforcement probe.

Mr. Neely told colleagues at the GSA’s so-called Western Regional Conference that the gathering was “over the top,” and he added that he and other convention goers were intent on having fun. Mr. Neely’s wife, too, was seen soaking up the lavish atmosphere.

While most of the dozens of employees who attended were from western offices at the GSA, The Washington Times reported this week that more than a dozen officials from GSA’s Washington headquarters also attended, including top-ranking officials, such as Anthony E. Costa, the agency’s chief people officer.

But it’s Mr. Neely who has long been the public face of the convention, especially after photos surfaced showing him sipping wine while in a hot tub.

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