Videos Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal Costumed Parodies, Playacting at GSA
JULY 02, 2013
Video Shows Two Highly-paid GSA Officials Leading Employees on “Rocky”-themed “Jogs” through GSA Corridors; Parodies of Godfather, Jeopardy, Mission Impossible, and Sherlock Holmes
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained more than a half-dozen, newly uncovered videos from U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) which show senior GSA officials and staff participating in costumed playacting and parodies. These videos are evidence of GSA’s extravagance, which, along with the scandalous 2010 Las Vegas regional conference, were revealed in a scathing April 2012 inspector general (IG) report. These videos had been available on GSA’s website prior to the release of the IG Report but were removed shortly thereafter.
The videos were obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a June 15, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking videos produced by GSA’s Northeast Region (known as Region 2) from 2011 through June 2012. Because the agency failed to timely respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on May 23, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. General Services Administration (No. 1:13-cv-00755)).
These newly uncovered videos show a wide variety of costly videotaped performances by senior GSA officials and employees, including:
- The Rocky Jog– With the Rocky movie theme blaring in the background, senior GSA officials lead employees on an extended jog through the corridors of the GSA’s New York office and the streets of Manhattan.
The jog is initiated by Ben Kochanski, Deputy Regional Commissioner, GSA Public Buildings Service, whose 2012 salary was $141,066.
Kochanski is then joined by Joanna Rosato, Regional Commissioner of GSA Public Buildings Service, whose 2012 salary was $164,500. Many additional GSA employees then join these two senior officials.
- Directors Meeting– GSA employee tries conducting a seminar for a room full of screeching GSA employees/monkeys who continue drinking and partying until he joins them in a dance routine.
- Rap Music Video – GSA official transforms into a rap singer to explain to young employees the need for additional revenue.
- Jeopardy – GSA officials and employees participate in an elaborate Jeopardy game show parody, complete with theme music, light up board, and canned audience applause.
- The “Leasefather” – GSA employees parody the baker scene from “The Godfather” movie with supplicant pleading for Don Tony (stroking stuffed cat) to give him justice.
- Mission Impossible – Former GSA official Ashley Cohen portrays Jim Phelps in a “Mission Impossible” TV show parody with blaring theme, lit matches, and an exploding tape recorder.
- Sherlock Holmes – After an opening with stock footage from Universal Studios, GSA employees costumed as Holmes and Watson conduct a lengthy discussion.
Judicial Watch was alerted to the existence of these newly uncovered videos by its client Linda Shenwick, a whistleblower in GSA who objected to frivolous expenditures in the GSA’s Region 2, the office which produced the videos. GSA had a policy of encouraging and rewarding employees who produced and performed in the controversial videos. Ms. Shenwick has since been demoted and isolated by moving her from the agency’s senior executive suite to an office in the agency’s child care center. Ms. Shenwick is pursuing a whistleblower case against the GSA with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.
Ironically, the GSA touts itself as an “innovation engine” that helps the government cut costs. The nearly $1 million Las Vegas extravaganza featured not only costly videos similar to those released today, but also luxury accommodations for employees and their loved ones, fine cuisine, parties and expensive gifts. In addition, dozens of agency workers were awarded cash bonuses for arranging the event, which the Region 9 Commissioner/Acting Regional Administrator had ordered to be “over the top.” Disclosure of the Las Vegas and other abuses led to the removal of some GSA officials but the agency officials who produced these videos still have their jobs. President Obama is seeking at least $250 million dollars for the GSA in his most recent budget.
“This latest round of extravagant and embarrassing GSA videos is further evidence of a bloated federal government completely out of control,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Clearly the new administrator will have his work cut out for him if this pattern of preposterous waste is to be curtailed. Our client Linda Shenwick has done her best to alert GSA to these abuses but her efforts were ignored by GSA leadership. Federal employees, such as Ms. Shenwick, who alert senior officials to this wasteful nonsense are punished and vilified. As these newly uncovered videos demonstrate, there clearly needs to be a more thorough housecleaning at GSA.”