Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Louis O. Giuffrida and his wife attended a $250-a-plate reception for Vice President Bush in February at the expense of a FEMA consulting firm, which then charged the evening to the government, according to documents made public yesterday.
The documents show that the contractor, the Triton Corp., paid $2,000 after its executives took top FEMA officials to the Bush dinner, which was held to raise funds for the National Republican Club. According to an agency invoice, the firm later billed FEMA $2,000 for an unspecified "conference" at the Capitol Hill Club, as the Republican club is commonly called, and FEMA says it paid the bill.
The documents also show that the agency has spent $5,000 in the last year for Giuffrida's wife, Genevieve, to accompany her husband on first-class flights to Rome, Paris, Brussels, Tel Aviv and Mexico City.
And they show that Triton financed receptions for FEMA officials in Washington and during Giuffrida's trips to Europe and Mexico, billing the agency hundreds of dollars for hors d'oeuvres and liquor.
The records were among dozens of internal FEMA documents released by Rep. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology investigations subcommittee.
Gore yesterday called on Giuffrida to resign, saying he had presided over "an extensive pattern of misconduct and mismanagement" at the agency. Gore said that Giuffrida "accepted a potentially illegal gratuity" by attending the Bush reception as a contractor's guest.
FEMA spokesman James L. Holton said it would be "improper" to comment on the allegations because they are under investigation by FEMA's inspector general. He said Giuffrida ordered the investigation last March, before Gore began his investigation.
Holton said that Gore "is going back on his own word" by releasing some of the 16,000 pages of FEMA documents recently subpoenaed by the subcommittee, which Gore had promised to keep confidential. A Gore aide said the subcommittee's Democrats had voted by telephone to release the material, but Holton and the panel's ranking minority member, Rep. Joe Skeen (R-N.M.), questioned the legality of that procedure.
Skeen said that Gore, who is running for the Senate, "has chosen to ignore House rules for his own political benefit." A hearing at which Giuffrida was scheduled to testify yesterday was canceled because the Republicans would not attend.
Giuffrida, a former brigadier general in the Army reserve, is an old acquaintance of President Reagan and headed a California emergency planning office while Reagan was governor.
In recent weeks, FEMA has been widely criticized for commissioning a $174,000 study that said one way people could protect themselves from nuclear attack was to jump into large pools of water wearing as much clothing as possible. The agency also has proposed that it be empowered to seize industrial plants and censor international communications in a national emergency.
A spokesman for Triton, a District firm that has a $2.5 million contract to help run FEMA's emergency training center, said yesterday that the $2,000 bill for the Bush reception "was inadvertently charged to the FEMA contract" through "a bookkeeping error, and once discovered was immediately corrected by Triton. Whether appropriate or not, the invitations were extended on a personal basis with no improper intent."
The Triton spokesman said that the receptions the company sponsored for FEMA officials and dignitaries here and abroad were part of its "logistical support" for FEMA workshops and conferences, and were perfectly appropriate under the FEMA contract.
The documents show that Triton's two top executives were among the party of eight attending the Bush reception at the Republican Club, which is a private gathering place, mainly for Republican legislators and assorted lobbyists.
Triton has other Republican connections. The company confirmed that it had hired Lawrence J. Hogan, former Republican executive of Prince George's County, as a consultant under the FEMA contract. Sources said Hogan's fee was $250 a day.
Genevieve Giuffrida's foreign trips were authorized by FEMA's former No. 3 official, Fred J. Villella, who also attended the Bush reception with his wife at Triton's expense. Villella resigned in August following allegations that he sexually harassed his chauffeur and misspent $170,000 to turn a FEMA building into a personal residence.
In a letter approving Mrs. Giuffrida's trip last March to Rome, Paris, Brussels and Tel Aviv, Villella said that Italian and Israeli authorities had invited her to participate in discussions related to NATO's Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee.
But one of the documents released yesterday is a letter from an Israeli official, who wrote Giuffrida that while he was in the meetings, "Mrs. Giuffrida will be taken to sightseeing tours to places of interest in the area."
Mrs. Giuffrida received no comparable foreign invitation for her trip to Mexico last December in connection with a conference on the U.S.-Mexican Agreement on Natural Disasters, officials said yesterday. They also acknowledged that she has no special background in civil defense matters.
Spokesman Holton said there was nothing improper about her trips and that foreign governments "frequently" invite the spouses of visiting federal officials. He said she traveled first class because her husband has a bad back and requires such accommodations.
The documents also show that:
*FEMA placed Frank J. Silver in charge of security and granted him a top secret security clearance, although a background check found that Silver was a convicted felon. Silver pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 1977 in connection with $16,908 in false health insurance billings and served six months in prison. Holton said that Silver had paid the penalty for his crime and that "it was felt he was not a security risk."
*The nonprofit International Management and Development Institute, on which Giuffrida serves as an unpaid adviser, received a $100,000 noncompetitive grant from FEMA last summer. Giuffrida had promised in a letter to support the institute.
*FEMA auditors found that the agency's food service contractor improperly spent $50,000 in agency funds, some of it to entertain top FEMA officials and guests. Expenditures by the firm, Servomation Corp., included a champagne lunch and a firefighters' memorial service that was attended by Attorney General-designate Edwin Meese III. Servomation Vice President Robert F. Wilson said the company had followed FEMA's orders in catering the receptions and recently agreed to return about $50,000 of the disputed money to the government.
*Giuffrida has continued to use a government car to commute to his Falls Church home, months after the General Accounting Office ruled he was not entitled to it; his position is that the GAO ruling does not become final until January. Giuffrida declared in a memo that he needs the car because "I have many important responsibilities, directly on behalf of the president."