May 17,2007

Floor Statement Responding to Senators Conrad and Dorgan Regarding Tax Shelters and Tax Havens

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, has been conducting oversight of the Smithsonian Institution as part of his broad review of tax-exempt groups, their accountability for their tax status, and the public service they perform. Inspector general and Washington Post reports have revealed executives’ spending excesses and management failures at the Smithsonian, known as the nation’s premier museum and research complex. Earlier this week, Grassley wrote to the Smithsonian Board of Regents, outlining a series of concerns regarding Smithsonian Business Ventures. The chief executive officer of Smithsonian Business Ventures has since resigned. Grassley made the following comment on the resignation.

“It looks like the leaders of Smithsonian Business Ventures were living like Thurston Howell and managing like Gilligan. I wrote to the Board of Regents about SBV’s management and performance. A number of whistleblowers have described problems from out-of-control spending to sweetheart promotions. The priority of those who manage the Smithsonian gift shops, restaurants, and the magazine ought to be bringing in the resources needed to make sure the Smithsonian remains a world-class institution, not grabbing up perks and padding their own pay. It’s good that the Smithsonian called a cab and sent a top manager packing. But I don't know how you justify keeping someone with this record on the payroll until September.”