A House panel begins to detail excessive spending connected to VA training conferences, including production of a video in which an actor parodied a scene from the cinema classic.
The Veterans Affairs department spent $52,000 to make a training video in which an actor parodied actor George C. Scott in the iconic scene from the movie “Patton,” according to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The video (viewable below) surfaced as part of a probe into two training conferences the VA held in Florida in 2011. Lasting nearly 15 minutes, it features segments echoing Scott's famous speech to the troops scene interspersed with more straightforward interviews and commentary about VA's mission.
“I question the excessiveness in which taxpayer dollars are being used to fund multi-million dollar conferences,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the committee's chairman. “The committee will continue to investigate these conferences. I have requested all budgets and materials for VA conferences that have occurred over the past three years to see if these two conferences are an anomaly or are part of a bigger pattern.”
Earlier this month, Miller and ranking member Bob Filner (D-Calif.) sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinsheki detailing their concerns.
The VA issued a statement agreeing that the video was an inappropriate use of funds.
"“This parody should never have been produced and this misuse of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable. This event took place over a year ago and we have already adopted new rules that reflect our continuing commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars," the statement reads. "The Department is cooperating fully with the VA Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) ongoing investigation, and earlier this month Secretary Shinseki proactively informed key members of Congress of the investigation. Additionally, VA has taken action to remove purchasing authority of any employees in the work unit under investigation."
Several incidents of apparent excessive spending have come to light this year, including the General Services Administration's notorious Western Regions Conference held in Las Vegas in 2010 and the investigation into an Army general for allegedly finding ways for his wife to accompany him on travel at government expense, among other accusations.
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