GSA's History of Corruption Should Make You Very Angry

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For your dose of Monday morning irritation, there's more news coming from the General Services Administration investigation. Meet Coleen Newton-White, a GSA contractor, who made $300,000 between 2008 and 2010 by expensing other people's fuel. And between October 2010 and last September, there have been some 63 cases similar to hers (stealing/misusing GSA funds).

According to the Los Angeles Times' Ian Duncan, Newton-White and her husband "would take General Services Administration credit cards from the motor pool at Ft. Monroe, Va., and use them to sell fuel at a discount to cash customers who pulled up to service stations five at a time." Okay, so that's not taking elaborate trips like the ones Jeff Neely took on taxpayer's dimes, and in fact the whole thing sounds a bit elementary, but, as the Inspector General reported, it was very profitable:

According to the evidence introduced at trial, the defendant convinced his former wife to systematically steal GSA fleet Credit Cards from the Fort Monroe Motor Pool

He [White Newton's husband] then found numerous customers from the Newport News and Hampton area to purchase gasoline and sometimes diesel fuel for $1.50 a gallon and pay White in currency or checks. The credit card bills were paid by the Government and amounted to losses in excess of $300,000.00.

It's a bit difficult to tell the bigger outrage. Was it White-Newton's scheme? Or the fact that it went largely unchecked until two years had passed and $300,000 had already been made?

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Newton-White and her husband did go to jail, but their kind of behavior cements the idea of corruption in the GSA being systemic rather than just one or two big spenders. The Times' Duncan adds, "The Newton-White case was just one of 64 prosecutions between October 2010 and September 2011 of people who bilked the GSA by inflating costs, or just flat out stole from it."  And that number could grow (along with your your rage), says Inspector General Brian Miller, who said that tips are flowing into the agency's hotline. "We have more work than ever," Miller told senators last week.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.