Hillary campaign chairman questions independence of State Department Inspector General

posted at 4:31 pm on March 1, 2016 by John Sexton

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman has questioned the independence of the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General after an unnamed source contacted The Hill and claimed the office had become increasingly partisan:

A source within the OIG contacted The Hill claiming that the office has grown increasingly partisan, accusing it of having an “anti-Clinton” bias…

The source charges that State Inspector General Steve Linick is “excessively deferential” to Emilia DiSanto, the OIG deputy director and a former aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)…

“Our work is becoming overtly anti-State Department, pro-Republican, and anti-Clinton,” the OIG source said, charging that DiSanto is working with an “active partisan mandate to undermine both the State Department as a federal agency and Secretary Clinton as a presidential candidate.”

The Clinton campaign seized on these claims, calling the unnamed source a “whistleblower.” “This person’s account is highly troubling, and is cause to ask serious questions about the independence of this office,” Clinton campaign chariman John Podesta told The Hill.

Both the OIG and Senator Grassley’s staff deny the claims. “Partisan politics play no role in OIG’s work,” an OIG spokesman told the Hill. “Our work will continue to be unbiased, objective, and fact-based. We are currently reviewing the email practices of the current and last four Secretaries of State, including the impact of these practices on FOIA and agency record keeping requirements. Any suggestion that the office is biased against any particular Secretary is completely false.”

Eventually, through a link to a prior story, we learn that Democrats have been making this charge against the OIG’s office in general and Emilia DiSanto in particular since last November. From an earlier Hill story on the accusation:

Democrats claim they know who that source is and are accusing the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) of leaking information to Grassley about Abedin. They say the source is Emilia DiSanto, a former Grassley aide who is now deputy director of the State Department OIG.

Grassley, staffers for the Iowa senator and DiSanto adamantly deny she is the confidential source.

DiSanto said, “These allegations are utterly false. I am not, nor have I been, either directly or indirectly, a ‘confidential source’ for Sen. Grassley or his office.”

A spokeswoman for Grassley said Democrats know who the source is because they were at a briefing with the source. She specifically cited Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and House Oversight panel ranking member Elijah Cummings (Md.).

Is your head spinning yet? To briefly summarize this. Democrats have been claiming for more than three months that a former Sen. Grassley staffer, Emilia DiSanto, who now works for the State Department’s Inspector General is leaking information back to Grassley. DiSanto denies it unequivocally and Grassley’s office claims Democrats know she’s not the source because they know who the source is from a prior briefing.

It’s entirely possible that the new OIG “whistleblower” is just a strictly neutral concerned citizen who knew nothing about the allegations against DiSanto and Grassley when he (or she) called in the tip to The Hill. It’s also possible that a partisan Democrat in the OIG’s office has decided to make anonymous accusations which play into a campaign to discredit the office’s work which Democrats have been running for months. If I had to guess I’d say this sounds like Democrats laying groundwork in case the OIG unleashes a blistering report later in the campaign season. Nothing comes easier to Hillary and her team than blaming everything on a vast, right-wing conspiracy.


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