WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian Institution announced Monday that its top official, Secretary Lawrence M. Small, has resigned amid criticism of his spending.
Small, the first businessman to run the 160-year-old museum and research complex, resigned over the weekend after more than seven years as secretary. The decision was unanimously accepted Sunday by the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents.
Cristian Samper, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, was appointed acting secretary while the regents conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.
An internal audit in January found that Small had made $90,000 in unauthorized expenditures, including private jet travel and gifts.
The audit also found that Small charged the Smithsonian more than $1.1 million for agreeing to use his 6,500-square-foot home in the affluent Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington for official functions. The housing expenses included $273,000 for housekeeping, $2,535 to clean a chandelier and $12,000 for service on his backyard swimming pool.
Small was to earn $915,698 this year in total compensation – more than double what he earned his first year as secretary in 2000. Small will not be given a severance package and did not ask for any final compensation, said Patty Stonesifer, co-chair of the board.