One of the signposts of excess at the now-infamous 2010 General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas was an evening of entertainment by a “mentalist” who combined motivational talk with fortune-teller theatrics.
But the performance wasn’t a one-off — only last year, attendees of another GSA-sponsored conference — also held in Sin City — were treated to another speaker, Rudy Ruettiger, a “motivational speaker” and the real-life inspiration behind the 1993 movie “Rudy.”
An attendee described Ruettiger’s address as comical and inspiring. “He was extremely funny and down-to-earth – reminding us that you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to do great things, it just takes a lot of hard work and character,” the audience member wrote in an entry on the GSA’s Web site recapping the conference.
But Ruettiger seemed to have odd methods: He “spoke about gaining self-confidence through his impressive skills folding underwear,” the attendee wrote. Hmm ...
And while Ruettiger was sharing underwear-folding tips with an audience that included federal workers, his dirty laundry was also attracting the attention of some other feds. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Reuttiger with running a stock scam Dec. 16, 2011, just two months after his performance at the GSA SmartPay Training Conference.
Ruettiger’s Web page describes him as “one of the most popular motivational speakers in the United States,” and highlights his biography, made famous in the underdog-as-hero flick “Rudy.” Ruettiger improbably played for the Notre Dame football team, and memorably sacked the opponents’ quarterback in the only play of his college career.
The annual gathering focuses on the GSA’s SmartPay system, which provides charge cards to government agencies to use for purchasing, and attendees regularly include card-program managers from federal agencies in addition to GSA employees.
A GSA spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.
But let’s hope this year’s speaker fares better post-conference. According to the Web site of the 2012 conference (it’s in Nashville, Tenn., not Vegas), the featured speaker is J.R. Martinez, an Iraq War veteran who recovered from devastating injuries and went on to a career as a speaker — and as a winner of “Dancing With the Stars.”