Se­na­tors press home­land se­cu­rity in­spec­tor to quit

Cite proof he soft-ped­aled Se­cret Ser­vice probe

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JEF­FREY AN­DER­SON

The bi­par­ti­san lead­ers of a key Se­nate panel have taken the rare step of call­ing for the res­ig­na­tion of the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, say­ing they have doc­u­mented through whistle­blow­ers sev­eral al­le­ga­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior, in­clud­ing ac­cu­sa­tions he soft-ped­aled an in­ter­nal probe of the Se­cret Ser­vice prostitution scan­dal.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Demo­crat and chair­woman of the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs sub­com­mit­tee on con­tract­ing over­sight, and Wis­con­sin Sen. Ron John­son, the panel’s rank­ing Repub­li­can, called Tues­day for In­spec­tor Gen­eral Charles Ed­wards to re­sign, claim­ing he with­held in­for­ma­tion re­lated to al­le­ga­tions he mis­used agency re­sources and abused his au­thor­ity.

“This sum­mer we be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct by Charles Ed­wards,” Mr. John­son said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “Since then, dozens of whistle­blow­ers have come for­ward. It is clear to us at this point that Charles Ed­wards should re­sign.”

Mr. Ed­wards “needs to re­sign,” Mrs. McCaskill told The Fed­eral Times, which first re­ported the story, on Tues­day. “We have a num­ber of doc­u­mented cases of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior for some­body who’s in that role,” in­clud­ing al­low­ing re­port find­ings to be changed based on “in­ap­pro­pri­ate in­flu­ence.”

She was re­fer­ring to whistle­blower al­le­ga­tions that Mr. Ed­wards gave in to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure in ex­am­in­ing the Se­cret Ser­vice’s 2012 scan­dal in­volv­ing a dozen agents who took pros­ti­tutes to their ho­tel rooms in Carta­gena, Colombia, in ad­vance of a visit by Pres­i­dent Obama.

A spokesman for the in­spec­tor gen­eral told re­porters that Mr. Ed­wards has no in­ten­tion of step­ping aside. Of­fi­cials with his of­fice said that it has turned over thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments and in­tends to con­tinue to co­op­er­ate with the probe. Mr. Ed­wards has main­tained the al­le­ga­tions against him are with­out merit.

In Septem­ber, The Wash­ing­ton Times re­ported that the Se­nate panel was in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Janet A. Napoli­tano’s close al­lies, for­mer chief of staff Noah Kroloff and for­mer gen­eral coun­sel John Sandweg, pushed Mr. Ed­wards to tread lightly in is­su­ing a re­port that val­i­dated the Se­cret Ser­vice’s own in­ter­nal probe of the scan­dal. Sources privy to both a pub­lic and nonpublic ver­sion of the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port say that the two ver­sions don’t match.

Soon af­ter the pub­lic re­port was re­leased, Mr. Kroloff formed a pri­vate con­sult­ing firm with Mark Sul­li­van, who re­tired in March as head of the Se­cret Ser­vice. A num­ber of other for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials also have joined the firm.

Mr. Ed­wards is ex­pected to is­sue a “cul­ture re­port” re­gard­ing the Se­cret Ser­vice in the com­ing weeks.

Mrs. McCaskill’s of­fice did not re­spond to calls and emails. Mr. John­son’s of­fice would not com­ment on the panel’s work.

An­drew P. How­ell, a spe­cial­ist in home­land se­cu­rity with the Mon­u­ment Pol­icy Group, said he is un­fa­mil­iar with the de­tails of the in­spec­tor gen­eral and Se­nate panel in­quiries. But in gen­eral, he said that bi­par­ti­san con­gres­sional com­mit­tees need to be fair and bal­anced and staffed with com­pe­tent and ca­pa­ble peo­ple, “oth­er­wise it threat­ens to un­der­mine the cred­i­bil­ity of the process and be­gins to look like what the sub­ject of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing ac­cused of.”

Mr. John­son and Mrs. McCaskill are not the first to ask Mr. Ed­wards to step aside, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sources. On Tues­day, they said they are work­ing to­gether to find a re­place­ment can­di­date to rec­om­mend to Pres­i­dent Obama.

Clark Ervin, a lawyer at Pat­ton Boggs and the first in­spec­tor gen­eral in Home­land Se­cu­rity’s brief his­tory, said the only per­son who can fire an in­spec­tor gen­eral is the pres­i­dent, and even then he has to give Congress his rea­sons in writ­ing. Al­though in­spec­tors gen­eral also re­port to Congress, law­mak­ers can­not fire them, though the rare step of call­ing for a res­ig­na­tion will have a chill­ing ef­fect on their re­la­tion­ship. “Con­gres­sional ap­pro­pri­a­tors could cut off his funds,” Mr. Ervin said, “but that’s a dra­co­nian step that dam­ages the mis­sion of the of­fice.”

Cause of Ac­tion, a gov­ern­ment ac­count­abil­ity group, also called for Mr. Ed­wards to re­sign, point­ing to their own ef­forts in July to urge Mr. Obama to re­move him.

“In­spec­tors gen­eral are re­quired to act as in­ter­nal agency watch­dogs to save tax­pay­ers’ money, in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion and pun­ish wrong­do­ing,” said Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Dan Ep­stein in a state­ment. “Un­for­tu­nately, [Mr.] Ed­wards has failed to do his job on all fronts.”

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