A child-molesting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who was paid $55,000 to retire is only one of many bad agency employees who skirted termination, according to a congressional committee.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held its third hearing Wednesday focused on EPA employees who successfully avoided serious punishment or resigned or retired before they could be terminated. (RELATED: Porn, Weed, DUIs All In A Day’s Anonymous ‘Work’ At EPA)
“A convicted child molester — convicted child molester — was on EPA’s payroll for years, even after EPA learned of his offense,” House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz said in a hearing.
“What’s so terrible about this situation and just cannot explain or justify is the EPA knows that this person is a convicted child molester, and yet the EPA put him in a position to interact with the public,” the Utah Republican continued. “He was out there literally interacting with the public.”
The child molester – a registered sex offender for “indecent acts with a minor” – was fired in January, 2014, for violating his probation, but the Merit Systems Protection Board reinstated him, according to EPA inspector general records. The employee was ultimately paid $55,000 to resign in January, 2015, as part of a settlement.
He was also previously caught twice with emergency lights illegally installed on his vehicle and once with fake badges to impersonate law enforcement, which also violated his probation.
Another employee regularly watched pornography at work on an EPA computer for several years. (RELATED: EPA Employees Watched Porn, Harassed Women And Got Promoted)
“The employee was suspended without pay for five working days, is no longer allowed to telework and is not allowed to attach any unauthorized external drive devices to a government computer,” inspector general documents show.
Other EPA employees were caught possessing marijuana, illegally deleting federal records, violating transparency laws and stealing federal funds, but were still not fired.
Acting Deputy Administrator Stanley Meiburg told the panel some EPA employees were fired for misconduct within the last year, but couldn’t provide an exact figure.
Rep. John Mica pointed out most of the dozens of cases he was aware of ended with resignations or even retirements, rather than terminations.
“And when they retire, they get a pretty good retirement, don’t they?” the Florida Republican said. “You steal, you sit around and watch porn, you get convictions outside and you either voluntarily resign and go to retirement, but nobody gets fired.”
Most EPA employees aren’t required to report arrests or convictions, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Patrick Sullivan told the committee.
“I was a little surprised to learn that rank and file EPA employees don’t have to do that,” Sullivan said.
Both Sullivan and Meiburg boasted EPA employee misconduct is being addressed faster and more consistently, thanks, in part, to the committee’s oversight.
“The isolated misconduct of a few does not reflect and must not overshadow the dedication and hard work of over 15,000 EPA employees, who commit themselves every day to the important work of the agency,” Meiburg said.
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