Running the Smithsonian might be the best job in Washington. Nearly a million a year and unlimited vacation — sign us up! Even the deputy secretary got all the leave she wanted! And though you’ll be forced to resign in disgrace when it’s revealed that you took 10 weeks of vacation a year while making $5.7 million at outside gigs and failing to raise as much money for the institution as your predecessor, it’s still great while it lasts.
Former secretary Lawrence Small oversaw the increase of his salary and benefits numerous times during his tenure at the Smithsonian, while also netting trips overseas for his wife, luxury hotels, and a $1.1 million “housing allowance.” And as usual, there’s a former Nixonite to blame.
The independent committee criticized Small’s hiring by “a very small group of regents.” That group included Chief Justice William Rehnquist, former senator Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), Rep. Barber B. Conable Jr. (R-N.Y.) and Wesley S. Williams Jr., a former partner at Covington & Burling law firm.
Once again drafting hotshots from the private sector to apply their skills for making huge amounts of money at a public institution worked wonderfully. For the guy who made a couple million, anyway. And why begrudge him that? Go cry to the Spirit of St Louis if it bugs you so much.