Did you know the EPA has an 'Office of Homeland Security'?
Looks like about 10 people in Washington are aware of this top secret office run by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. Now, we're all going to find out exactly what this politically charged branch of the EPA does because the inspector general's office is accusing them of impeding their investigations into corruption, computer security, and employee misconduct.
"Under the heavy cloak of `national security,' the Office of Homeland Security has repeatedly rebuffed and refused to cooperate with the OIG's ongoing requests for information or cooperation," Sullivan said in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press. "This block unquestionably has hamstrung the Office of Inspector General's ability to carry out its statutory mandate to investigate wrongdoing of EPA employees."
EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe was expected to tell Congress that the agency's employees work cooperatively with the inspector general and support its mission, according to his prepared testimony.
The EPA allegations are the latest under the Obama administration to question the effective independence of the government's inspectors general, who ostensibly operate on their own to investigate wrongdoing inside federal agencies. Two weeks ago, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson put his department's former inspector general on administrative leave after senators said he was too cozy with senior DHS officials and improperly rewrote, delayed or classified some critical reports to accommodate Obama's political appointees.
Last year, the Defense Department's inspector general removed material from a draft report that concluded then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had improperly disclosed classified information about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden to a producer for the movie "Zero Dark Thirty."
The EPA inspector general, Arthur A. Elkins Jr., was appointed by Obama in 2010. It's an independent office within the agency and is expected to be outside of political influence.
The dispute between the inspector general's office and the EPA's homeland security office came to a head last year as Republicans in Congress investigated the agency's handling of John C. Beale, a former deputy assistant administrator who pleaded guilty in federal court last fall to stealing $886,186 between 2000 and April 2013, falsely claiming he was working undercover for the CIA. The Beale case was initially investigated by the homeland security office months before the IG's office was made aware of it.
Another inspector general investigator, Elisabeth Heller Drake, will testify that McCarthy asked the inspector general's office to halt a probe into a homeland security office employee after he allegedly assaulted her in October, according to her prepared testimony. The EPA says that claim is a mischaracterization and that McCarthy only asked that the investigation be paused until the internal dispute between the two offices was settled safely and efficiently.
Are you getting this? Political appointees at the EPA have set up an office specifically designed to keep the IG's office in the dark about wrongdoing by federal employees.. Incredible.
The war against the independence of agency inspector generals goes back to the beginning of Obama's first term. Gerald Walpin, IG of the Corporation for Service uncovered massive corruption in the personal and political doings of Obama crony Kevin Johnson, who misused Americorps funds as Mayor of Sacramento. He was subsequently fired, accused of senility. Other IG's have been mercilessly attacked for issuing reports that criticized the administration.
But this takes intimidation to a whole other level. And it makes you wonder what other departments and agencies have their own political hit squad whose job is to squelch politically dangerous investigations by inspector generals.