The Trump administration reportedly considered replacing the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency over improper use of government resources in the days before Hurricane Florence slammed into the North Carolina coast.
FEMA administrator Brock Long is the subject of an internal probe examining frequent personal travel between Washington, D.C. and his home in Hickory, North Carolina, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (IG) say Long has often left FEMA headquarters on Thursdays and driven 400 miles home in a caravan of government vehicles. He has spent about 150 days in North Carolina since he took over as administrator last year and has been warned by DHS attorneys and the IG that his trips violated the law, according to TheWSJ report.
The final IG report on Long’s travel is expected early next week.
Senior White House officials reportedly discussed replacing Long as Florence was forming in the Atlantic. Ultimately, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly chose to leave Long in place until the final IG report was available.
Long denied doing anything improper at a press briefing on Thursday.
“I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly … Doing something unethical is not part of my DNA and is not part of my track record my entire career,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
“We’ll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on. And own up to any mistakes and push forward, and keep going, keep moving on. But here’s the thing, regardless of an article, right now I am 100 percent focused” on Hurricane Florence, Long added.
Long is not the first senior Trump administration official to come under scrutiny for possible misuse of government resources while traveling. Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid allegations of improper spending, including more than $160,000 on first-class and charter flights overseas.
Before Pruitt, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned last September in connection with his use of private jets and charter flights when commercial flights were available.
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