Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Under fire, DHS IG Asks to be Reassigned Before Senate Hearing

Under fire, DHS IG asks to be reassigned

(CNN) - Under fire from Congress for allegedly unethical practices, the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, Charles Edwards, has been reassigned, sources tell CNN.

Last Thursday, a senior DHS official tells CNN, Edwards "formally requested a voluntary reassignment ... to another career position, in another office within the Department. In line with existing protocols and procedures, that request for a voluntary reassignment was processed, and based on the employee's experience and technical background he has been reassigned to a career position at Science and Technology."
In June, as CNN reported at the time, the chair and ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight described a number of potentially damaging allegations against Edwards, one of which was the allegation that he was susceptible to political pressure to the point that an investigation into Secret Service misconduct in Cartagena, Colombia, was scrubbed of damaging information. In the public report about the misconduct, whistleblowers told the senators, damaging information was “intentionally changed and withheld."
Other allegations by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, included that Edwards “violated anti-nepotism laws and policies” to employ his wife, Madhuri Edwards, as a supervisory auditor in his office. Beyond that, Edwards is alleged to have misused staff to help his wife pursue a Ph.D. at a local community college, and intervened improperly to allow her to telecommute from India for seven months with an office-issued international BlackBerry phone. The allegations against Edwards also suggest that he retaliated against staff who “brought or attempted to call attention to (his) misconduct," the senators said. 

Edwards could not be reached for comment.
“Inspectors general are supposed to serve as the eyes and ears of taxpayers within our agencies, guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse of power, and we expect them to abide by the same high standards of behavior they apply to agency officials," Sens. McCaskill and Johnson said in a joint satement.
"We hope that Mr. Edwards’ departure will pave the way for a new level of accountability and transparency within the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, and we plan to continue rigorous oversight to achieve that goal,” they said.

 Homeland Security's acting deputy IG resigns before Senate hearing 

Acting Deputy Inspector General Charles K. Edwards has resigned, according to officials with the Department of Homeland Security.
Edwards has been the subject of a Senate probe of numerous allegations ranging from misusing agency money for personal travel to favoring his spouse for government positions.
Carlton Mann, the current assistant IG, will now be the acting deputy IG, DHS said.
Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson called on Edwards to resign in an Oct. 30 letter.

 McCaskill is chairman and Johnson is ranking minority member of the Senate's subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight. Edwards was to appear before the committee Dec. 19.