Inspector general: EPA officials actively obstructed that crazy fraud investigation

What’s worse than a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official defrauding the agency over the course of twelve years by taking lengthy unexplained absences, doing very little actual work, stealing nearly one million dollars in the form of pay, bonuses, and airfare he didn’t deserve, and getting away with it all by cultivating an enigmatic reputation and telling his superiors (including now-EPA chief Gina McCarthy) that he was performing joint government work for the CIA vaguely related to climate change?

Other EPA officials actively obstructing the investigation into the whole mess, that’s what. The WFB reports on a letter from the EPA inspector general to Sen. David Vitter released on Wednesday, wherein the IG describes how several agency employees tried to get in the way of getting to the bottom of the ordeal:

EPA employees threatened Inspector General investigators, refused to cooperate, and handed out non-disclosure agreements to other employees to keep them from being interviewed, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. wrote in response to a request for information by Vitter on the case.

“Over the past 12 months, there have been several EPA officials who have taken action to prevent [the Office of Investigations] OI from conducting investigations or have attempted to obstruct investigations through intimidation,” Elkins wrote. …

After closing its criminal investigation, the Inspector General began an audit of the lack of internal controls that allowed Beale to defraud the agency. That audit has implicated a growing number of EPA officials. …

“During the course of an OI administrative investigation, Mr. [Steve Williams in the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security] approached an OI special agent in a threatening manner, preventing the special agent from conducting her official duties in an ongoing investigation involving Mr. Williams and other members of OHS,” Elkins wrote. “Additionally, Mr. Williams issued non-disclosure agreements to EPA employees that prevented these employees from cooperating with [the Office of the Inspector General] OIG investigations.”

Gee, whiz. I’m sure these EPA employees were eager to limit the scope of the investigations in order to A) thwart any further personal implications on the part of other EPA employees’ mistakes and oversights in allowing Beale’s charade to go on as long as it did, and B) to prevent any political fallout from the agency’s collective incompetence and bureaucratic lassitude those investigations might reveal — because it’s not like the EPA was at the Supreme Court, oh, yesterday fighting charges of a yet another unprecedented regulatory power grab, or anything. Most Transparent Administration, Evah.