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Has the World Been Too Hard on W. Richard West Jr.? Nah, Just Don’t Forget His Superiors, Too.


We’ve reported on the scandal surrounding W. Richard West Jr., the former director of the National Museum of the American Indian, several times over the past few weeks, concerning his spending habits with Smithsonian dollars, including spending $48,500 for a self-portrait. Now Deborah Howell over the Washington Post is asking if we, collectively have been too hard on West. The short answer she comes up with: not really, no. He was spending an absurd amount of money that he probably shouldn’t have. But at the same time, she says, we also have to look at the people who were giving him the okay all along. And this coming after the Lawrence Small and Shelia P. Burke fiasco, also responsible for spending beyond what should have been their limits, it’s probably a good idea to investigate the higher ups at the museum who are apparently giving out limitless American Express cards with the gentle warning, “Just don’t buy anything larger than a Learjet for yourself, okay?”

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