US official charges Watt entertained with US funds

Interior Secretary James Watt misused almost $9,000 of government funds last year when he and his wife entertained guests at the Custis Lee Mansion, overlooking Washington, the US comptroller general said.

A General Accounting Office report estimated that $8,842.20 was improperly diverted from Interior Department appropriations and from the Cooperating Association Fund of the National Park Service for the two private, catered functions.

A spokesman for Mr. Watt said: ''We carefully researched the propriety and procedures for those events. . . . If the GAO came to any other conclusion, then the GAO was in error.''

Interior officials used the two unauthorized funding sources to pay for a Dec. 14 breakfast which Mrs. Watt held for Cabinet wives, and a Dec. 17 Christmas party the Watts gave for top administration officials and Republican Party workers, according to the GAO report.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts, chairman of a House Interior oversight subcommittee, scheduled a hearing Friday on the report and said: ''Since GAO indicated Secretary Watt broke the law, I expect him to come to the hearing with checkbook in hand, ready to reimburse the federal Treasury.''

But Watt has already refused to appear and labeled the hearing a ''publicity stunt,'' according to House staff sources. They also said he has forbidden his staff members to be interviewed by subcommittee investigators.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to US official charges Watt entertained with US funds
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today