Paying too much to (for) Small.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been following the growing scandal concerning payments made to Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small. If you’ve not heard of this issue, you might get caught up by reading the lengthy article in the Washington Post.

Here are some money quotes for your consumption from the Post:

Small spent nearly $160,000 on the redecoration of his offices in the institution’s main building on the Mall shortly after he took the helm of the world’s largest museum system in 2000. The expenses include $4,000 for two chairs from the English furniture-maker George Smith, $13,000 for a custom-built conference table and $31,000 for Berkeley stripe upholstery.

Small has also received $1.15 million in housing allowances over a six-year period in return for agreeing to use his 6,500-square-foot home in Woodley Park for Smithsonian functions. To justify those expenses, Small has submitted receipts for $152,000 in utility bills, $273,000 in housekeeping services and $203,000 in maintenance charges, including $2,535 to clean a chandelier. The home-repair invoices show $12,000 for upkeep and service on his backyard swimming pool, including $4,000 to replace the lap pool’s natural gas heater and pump.

The office expenses were permitted under Smithsonian policies and procedures, and the housing allowance was part of Small’s employment agreement. The $160,000 in office renovations are part of $846,000 in total office expenses Small filed between 2000 and 2005. About $90,000 was found by the institution’s inspector general to be unauthorized, including charter jet travel and transactions that “might be considered lavish or extravagant,” The Post reported last month.

In addition to the $90,000, about $28,000 in expenses had insufficient or no supporting documents. These were variously labeled as “reimbursement,” “one-time vendor” and “Smithsonian petty cash,” documents show.

Small, whose total compensation will top $915,000 this year, said in a statement that he is declining to comment while an ongoing Senate Finance Committee investigation looks at his expenses.

Wow! The article goes on to state that under Small’s leadership the Smithsonian has increased productivity, streamlined operations, opened new museums, and improved existing ones. Additionally, Small has been a tremendous fundraiser for the institution, with new donors giving over a billion dollars to the greatest museums in the world.

But all that aside, your Maximum Leader (a long-time Smithsonian Associate by the way) feels a bit unsettled by all of the money Small seems to be taking for himself from the taxpayer subsidized trough. The Smithsonian Board of Regents has given its seal of approval to all these payments to the Secretary. And that seal of approval continues even after their own inspector general has raised questions about the payments. First off a salary of over $900,000 a year. That seems a bit excessive. Actually, it seems a lot excessive to your Maximum Leader. (He will, however, admit that he doesn’t know what the going rate of compensation is for the heads of the worlds great museums. How much does the Director of the British Museum, or Louvre, or Hermitage get paid?)

There will be Senate hearings into all this, and according to today’s Washington Post the now former inspector general of the Smithsonian claims that Small tried to pressure her to change the focus of her financial investigation. It seems to your Maximum Leader that all this is gonna get real ugly.

Carry on.

1 Comment »
AirMarshall said:

What!?!?! Corruption inside the beltway? I don’t believe it. I just got back from a meeting down at L’Enfant Plaza, and I didn’t smell anything other than the normal stench.



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