State Department slow on details following $52-million contract abuse

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The Obama administration is not being fully forthcoming with many details about the State Department contractor who was fired after The Daily Caller’s exclusive discovery that she steered $52 million in taxpayer funds to a company her husband and daughter ran.

Kathleen McGrade, an employee of ATSG and contracting specialist who worked on-site at the State Department, funneled the millions to Sterling Royale Group. McGrade’s husband, Brian Collinsworth, was Sterling Royale’s vice president. McGrade’s daughter, Jennifer (J.L.) Herring, served as Sterling Royale’s president and CEO.

Officials are not being forthcoming with information that may reflect badly on the State Department. They will not say whether or not criminal charges have been filed against McGrade, whether McGrade is cooperating with investigators, or whether Collinsworth or Herring have faced any official punitive sanctions. State Department officials will also not say whether they have taken any action against Sterling Royale Group or against McGrade’s employer, ATSG.

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton told The Daily Caller that it’s typical of the State Department to be slow and unresponsive with answers, if they provide any at all. “Good luck on getting a straight answer from the State Department!,” Bolton emailed to TheDC on the matter.

State Department Officials appear to be selectively releasing some pieces of information but stonewalling on others. While saying they are not commenting on specifics because they have referred the matter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), they have provided TheDC and other press with some information, usually when it bolsters a positive public perception of the Obama administration.

For instance, State Department officials told The Daily Caller and the Associated Press on Wednesday that McGrade was terminated.

When TheDC asked the State Department if it could say “with certainty” that this was an “isolated incident,” a spokesperson replied: “Yes.”

Since the story broke and the matter was referred to the State Department’s OIG, a State spokesperson told TheDC that McGrade was “not a contracting officer and had no authority to decide on or sign contracts.”

But when TheDC follows up with a question whose truthful answer may not reflect as positively, Obama administration officials defer to their standard non-comment because the matter was referred to the Inspector General.

TheDC followed the State Department comment stating McGrade had “no authority” to pick which companies received contracts by asking who else may have been involved and whose signature would McGrade have needed to get contracts approved. State Department spokespeople would not answer. They deferred back to their standard non-comment: “This matter has been referred to the Department’s OIG.”

They won’t say who else at the State Department may have been involved in the scandal, or who actually signed off on McGrade’s contracts. Despite unambiguous and repeated questions, they will not provide names, titles, roles or any other information.

A spokesman for the State Department’s Office of Inspector General isn’t any more helpful. He confirmed they’ve received the matter, but won’t say if there’s an investigation or not, and won’t comment on any specifics at all.