WASHINGTON -- After Republican lawmakers sought to tie the White House to the General Services Administration scandal, Rep. John Mica (R) on Tuesday conceded that the repeated hearings on the subject are an attempt to "score political points," an admission he then retracted while holding they are part of an effort to label President Barack Obama "as a big spender."
"Are you scoring political points?" Stuart Varney, host of "Fox News Your World," asked Mica about the GSA hearings. "Are you trying to link President Obama as a big government spending guy and his big government spending that got us this scandal in Las Vegas? Are you doing that?"
Mica, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, responded simply, "Yes."
When Varney incredulously repeated his question, Mica qualified his answer.
"No, no, I'm not scoring political points," he said. "But I am labeling [President Obama] as a big spender, and what is interesting in this, the White House knew some months after about what was taking place. And the president didn't express his outrage or, you know, talk about this until just a couple weeks ago. So they have known for months and months about what was going on, and he could have stepped in and cleaned house."
WATCH: Rep. John Mica's Interview With "Fox News Your World" Above
The General Services Administration first got in trouble after a report from the GSA Inspector General found members of the agency had spent $823,000 of taxpayer money at a conference in Las Vegas, lavishing money on team building exercises and even hiring a clown and a mind reader.
As Republicans have tried to suggest a cover-up by the White House, former GSA administrator Martha Johnson testified Tuesday that she never spoke to President Obama, but said she did have "informational" meetings with other top administration officials the weeks of March 18 and March 25.
While no one has disputed that such behavior warrants attention, some have said that the series of hearings, being held by the House oversight committee to examine other instances of extravagant spending by the agency, is a bit much.
"Congressional examination is appropriate," wrote Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson, "but four hearings is overkill."
Mica's slip comes after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appeared to make a similar admission: that Republicans' ongoing probes of the Department of Energy's loan program, from which the bankrupt California-based solar company Solyndra and others benefited, are largely a play to win votes in November.
"Our staff will continue to dig into it and see," Jordan told Environment & Energy Daily. "But what I hope happens is we stop doing these kind of things ... this whole cronyism approach to the marketplace.
"Ultimately, we'll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November."
Meanwhile Tea Party favorite Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has no qualms about saying Republicans have been conducting their investigations of botched gun-tracking program Operation Fast and Furious chiefly for political gain.
"I think leadership doesn't want to be seen as using the gavels here for political purposes," King said in an interview. "I think there's a bit of an aversion to that. Me? I have no reservations about that. This is politics."
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