The troubles at the Environmental Protection Agency continue unabated this month, but this time we’re not talking about the various spills and disasters with Native Americans which have been in the news of late. An earlier scandal embroiling the agency involved a senior official who was charged with sexually harassing dozens of female employees and resulted in charges of the EPA stonewalling the investigation. Though we were assured that there would be more transparency and answers provided, the latest report to Congress from the agency’s Inspector General’s Office indicates that the promised cooperation has not materialized and numerous documents and records are still being withheld. (Washington Free Beacon)
The Environmental Protection Agency is still blocking its inspector general from investigating wrongdoing at the agency, according to the government watchdog’s semi-annual report to Congress.
More than a year after coming under scrutiny for stonewalling an investigation into a senior official accused of sexually harassing over a dozen women, the EPA is still not being cooperative with the inspector general.
“In the previous Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported theoretical progress with regard to the longstanding denial of access for the [Office of Inspector General] OIG by the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to information sought by the OIG,” the report said. “After considerable delay, OHS provided some documents to the OIG but continued to deny access to others.”
The accused official in this case was, as you may recall, allowed to retire without penalty. Making it even more odious was the fact that he retired on the same day he was scheduled to be interviewed by the Inspector General’s office. More than a dozen other officials in the department are alleged to have known about the accusations and the ongoing harassment problems, but they said nothing.
Now, even with one of the brighter spotlights available shining on them, the EPA continues to stall. They have repeatedly tried to claim that their cooperation is limited because the FBI doesn’t want them talking to the IG while their own investigation rolls out, but the Bureau has shot down that excuse repeatedly.
“During the semiannual reporting period ending March 31, 2016, senior officials from the OIG and EPA met with senior Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials about, among other things, any FBI insistence on restricting access by the OIG to any information shared with or held by the EPA,” the report said. “In short, the FBI assured the OIG and EPA that the FBI sought no restriction, and agreed that FBI information could be shared with the OIG.
The EPA said the agency will continue to not share information with the inspector general of its investigations into its employees, who have been caught watching porn at work for up to six hours a day, and spreading feces in hallways.
I recall a comedian who used to do a routine about what to do when your girlfriend discovers that you’ve been cheating on her. You’ve got to, “stick with your lie,” as the advice went. But that only works up to a point. The EPA appears to have been caught not only covering up for someone accused of serious misconduct, but making up completely unsupportable excuses for why they refuse to cooperate with the IG’s office. At some point the senior management of the agency needs a complete housecleaning to get rid of the old guard and bring in some people who are interested in accountability. Unfortunately, Gina McCarthy appears to have no intention of stepping down and President Obama is too loyal to his allies to show her the door.