WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative watchdog group released a half dozen movie parody videos and comedy skits Tuesday by the General Services Administration that were removed from the agency’s website after an inspector general report last year revealed lavish agency spending on a Las Vegas conference.
Judicial Watch, which obtained the material through a Freedom of Information Act request, said it was tipped to the videos by a current GSA employee, Linda Shenwick. Shenwick, a self-described whistle-blower, said the videos were a waste of time and money.
In videos such as “The Leasefather” — a send-up of “The Godfather” — costumed GSA employees promote agency initiatives, talk about government practices and try to motivate workers. Two GSA employees parody a famous scene from the movie with an employee begging for mercy from another.
In a statement Tuesday, GSA spokesman Dan Cruz said the agency’s new administrator already had referred the videos to the GSA’s inspector general for further review.
“This is another example of past GSA practices and an already recognized pattern of misjudgment spanning many years and administrations,” Cruz said. “These videos were made and shown in 2011 in a regional office, prior to new leadership arriving at GSA. Under the new leadership at GSA, these types of events are not tolerated and must be submitted for review to senior leadership.”
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said the videos were “extravagant and embarrassing.”
This “is further evidence of a bloated federal government completely out of control,” he said. “Clearly the new administrator will have his work cut out for him if this pattern of preposterous waste is to be curtailed.”
The videos come as the GSA has sought to shed its reputation as a free-spending agency prone to government waste and just days after the Senate confirmed a new leader for the agency.
By a voice vote last week, the Senate confirmed Dan Tangerlini to take permanent charge of GSA. He had been the agency’s acting administrator since 2012 and had led an internal push to scale back spending and repair the agency’s reputation after a series of scandals. At his confirmation hearing, he told senators the agency had trimmed as much as $200 million in projected costs from its budget.
The cost of the parody videos — or their exact publication date — could not immediately be determined. They appeared to predate an inspector general’s report last year that detailed more than $820,000 in spending on a 2010 Las Vegas conference for about 300 GSA employees that included a mind-reader, bicycle giveaways and showy, after-hours receptions in resort suites.
That report was a blow to a federal agency that has more than 12,000 employees nationwide and serves as the government’s property manager. The GSA’s then-head, Martha Johnson, resigned along with other key officials and deputies who were immediately responsible for the conference.
In a parody of the movie “Rocky,” GSA employees are informed about a fitness initiative as people jog to the film’s famous soundtrack through the halls of the agency’s New York facility and into the streets of Manhattan. Another clip acts out a scene from the TV show and movie series “Mission: Impossible,” including an exploding tape recorder. In another clip, two employees in costume pretend to be Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Other videos include a GSA official making a rap song about the need for more revenues, a “Jeopardy” game and a video that splices shots of angry monkeys with a GSA employee who is trying to conduct a meeting.
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