9 Investigates $6 million spent on Orlando conference for VA employees



ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates first reported about the Department of Veterans Affairs conference in September 2011.

On Wednesday, 9 Investigates discovered that government employees apparently received spa treatments and massages while on the clock.

In a 94-page congressional report, investigators describe a "Culture of irresponsible spending inside the veteran's administration."

A newly released video shows what looks like a party at an Orlando resort, but it's a $6 million conference for Veterans Administration employees

Congress launched an investigation and called VA leaders to testify.

One email from an event planner said, "We are a large agency, with deep pockets."

The report found more than $100,000 spent on promotional items like big stuffed bears.

"(It was) a mindless disregard for taxpayers' money. They were spending it on everything they could imagine," said U.S. Rep. John Mica.

One staff member's email reads "We just got back from the spa." That employee and others were allegedly collecting overtime pay on days they were getting massages.

"This is money that taxpayers thought was going to go to our veterans' car," said Mica.

Fifty-thousand dollars went to produce a spoof of the movie "Patton," to open the conference.

"I respectfully decline to answer based on my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege," said former VA official John Sepulveda at a congressional hearing.

Sepulveda, who oversaw the conference and has since resigned and refused to answers questions from members of Congress.

Sepulveda's successor wouldn't talk to Channel 9 but did apologize to members of the congressional committee and promised an event like that won't happen again.