Startling testimony of corruption and wrongdoing at EPA by IG's office
Startling testimony from the EPA's inspector general's office about official corruption and wrongdoing at the agency moved government oversight committee chair Darrell Issa to remark that the EPA is a "broken agency."
It's hard to argue with him.
"I'm very concerned that vital information regarding suspected employee misconduct is being withheld from the OIG," Patrick Sullivan, assistant inspector general, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
"This is truly a broken agency," committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said, adding that the employee problems have gotten to the point of being "intolerable."
The committee revealed several startling allegations and cases shared by the inspector general's office. In one case, an employee was getting paid for one or two years after moving to a retirement home, where the employee allegedly did not work. When an investigation began, the worker was simply placed on sick leave.
In another case, an employee with multiple-sclerosis was allowed to work at home for the last 20 years. However, for the past five years, she allegedly produced no work -- though she was paid roughly $600,000. She retired after an investigation.
In yet another case, an employee was accused of viewing pornography for two-to-six hours a day since 2010. An IG probe found the worker had 7,000 pornographic files on his EPA computer.
At the hearing, Sullivan detailed specific concerns with the agency's little-known Office of Homeland Security.
The office of about 10 employees is overseen by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's office, and the inspector general's office is accusing it of operating illegally as a "rogue law enforcement agency" that has impeded independent investigations into employee misconduct, computer security and external threats, including compelling employees involved in cases to sign non-disclosure agreements.
EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe told Congress that the agency's employees work cooperatively with the inspector general and support its mission.
The dispute between the inspector general's office and the 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 a total of $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.
Sullivan said Wednesday that the office's actions delayed and damaged their own probe.
Further, he claimed a "total and systematic refusal" to share information has stymied investigations. Sullivan said the office for years has blocked the inspector general's office from information by citing national security concerns and compelling employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.
The Beale case is especially egregious because this singularly unqualified employee was giving input into new environmental regulations for years. Makes you wonder about the "scientific basis" for clean air and water regs issued in the last few years.
The EPA's Office of Homeland Security may have begun innocently enough, but was turned into something sinister by the Obama administration. It became an umbrella political hit squad, squashing potentially damaging investigations, intimidating witnesses, and interferring in the operations of the inspector general's office, It reports only to the EPA administrator and is thus outside the normal chain of command at the agency.
Sounds like the old East German Stasi.
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy should be fired immediately and the homeland security office disbanded. This is intolerable behavior from anyone in government, much less from an agency with so much power.