HOMELAND SECURITY WATCHDOG ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION BY SENATE COMMITTEE
NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
April 28, 2014
© 2014 NewsWithViews.com
The internal "top cop" responsible for allegations of misconduct at the Homeland Security Department (DHS) is now himself accused of misconduct by avoiding the exposure of illegal or unethical activity by members of the DHS he felt "beholding to," according to a U.S. Senate investigative report released on Thursday.
The Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's report on Thursday appears to confirm many of the allegations made against former acting Inspector General Charles Edwards which began when he resigned from the Obama administration in December 2013.
The Senate investigators claim in their report that Edwards attempted to gain support for a permanent appointment as the DHS' inspector general by becoming "too chummy" with top DHS officials especially those who he believed were Obama minions. There also are accusations that he intentionally altered or delayed investigative reports in order to accommodate the very department he was tasked with investigating.
For example, according to the report, Edwards' office sat on information about the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal that could "influence an election."
"An Office of Inspector General is intended to be beyond reproach. The problems in that office were allowed to persist for far too long," Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a statement.
Asked about the allegations on Thursday, Edwards told FoxNews.com his office "was independent" -- but he declined to comment further.
The report paints the picture of an office torn apart by personal vendettas and political games. It included allegations that Edwards' office retaliated against workers who spoke out and, in the words of one unnamed official, that Edwards himself cultivated a "toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive” work environment. One official told Senate investigators that the work atmosphere was one of "complete terror."
The report reviewed allegations of a coverup in the IG probe of the 2012 scandal where Secret Service agents were caught with prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia.
FoxNews.com reported in September 2012 on allegations that White House advance team members may have been involved. Edwards himself later acknowledged that a hotel registry suggested two non-Secret Service personnel may have had contact with "foreign nationals" during that trip. One was a Defense Department employee "affiliated" with the White House Communication Agency and the other, he said at the time, "may have been" affiliated with the White House advance team.
But the White House denied the claims, and Edwards' office did not pursue those leads because they were not DHS personnel.
The Senate report could not substantiate claims that Edwards was involved in any changes to the IG report, but did determine that "certain information" from a draft report was "altered or removed" before the final release.
The lead investigator told the subcommittee that he was directed by his supervisor "to delete derogatory information" -- information considered "potentially damaging to the administration."
According to the report, the same investigator said he told an internal review team that he had concerns with deleting this material because: "The DHS OIG was sitting on information that could influence an election."
Edwards told the subcommittee, though, that any changes were made as part of the regular editing process. He and his assistant said no changes were politically motivated.
The report also included allegations that the lead investigator was threatened.
The Senate report detailed other audits and investigations. It claimed that Edwards released one report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement practices on the date desired by a senior DHS official. "Which day is good?" he emailed the DHS Acting Counsel, when asked when the report would come out.
According to the report, Edwards had certain language removed from a separate audit report at the request of DHS officials.
IG workers told congressional investigators that all along, Edwards was angling for the permanent IG post. It also said he socialized with senior officials over drinks and dinner and considered them "personal friends."
report also reviewed scattered allegations that surfaced last year,
including claims that he violated "anti-nepotism laws" to
employ his wife and used his own staff to work on school assignments.
The report concluded he did not violate anti-nepotism laws, but did abuse agency resources by getting a staffer to work on his Ph.D. dissertation. The report said his acting chief of staff estimated she worked 20-25 hours on helping with his dissertation.
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