American Elephants


What Do You Do When the Watchdogs Are Corrupt? by The Elephant's Child

The founders, Republicans keep trying to explain, did not have in mind a big bloated bureaucratic government in Washington D.C.. They believed that the few things that the federal government should and could do would be very limited.

They knew that big government as they experienced it, even at a great distance, was apt to become increasingly corrupt. Yet the idea of an Office of the Inspector General to keep tabs on whether the enormous numbers of federal agencies we now have  were behaving themselves, staying honest and doing only what they were supposed to do never occurred to them.

The Inspector General Act of 1978 listed the purpose of establishing the office as:

  1. To conduct and supervise audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of the establishments listed
  2. To provide leadership and coordination and recommend policies for activities designed (A) to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of, and (B) to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in, such programs and operations; and
  3. To provide a means for keeping the head of the establishment and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of such programs and operations  and the necessity for and progress of corrective action.

So now we have the top watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security who altered and delayed investigations at the request of senior administration officials, compromising his independent role as an inspector general, according to a new report for a Senate oversight panel.

Charles K.Edwards, who served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013, routinely shared drinks and dinner with department leaders and gave them inside information about the timing and findings of investigations. He improperly relied on the advice of top political advisers to Janet Napolitano and acquiesced to their suggestions about wording and timing of three separate reports. These actions occurred while Edwards was seeking the president’s nomination to be the permanent inspector general overseeing DHS, the third-largest government agency with a $39 billion budget and more than 225,000 employees.

Sen. Ron Johnson, the ranking Republican on the Senate oversight committee, said they found Mr. Edwards to be a compromised inspector general who was not exercising real oversight. Sen. Johnson and Sen.Claire McCaskill (D-MO) opened  the investigation while looking into the hiring of prostitutes by Secret Service agents ahead of a 2012 presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Whistleblowers alleged that Edwards had ordered them to remove derogatory information about the service and evidence implicating a White House staff member.

Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California system that neither she nor her staff ordered anything to be deleted, no changes, nothing to see here. Charles K. Edwards has been placed on administrative leave.

Michelle Malkin goes into the scandal a little deeper, and names more names. The administration is more apt to go after some Inspector Generals who expose corruption and financial improprieties than to take them seriously as corruption that must be rooted out. Which, of course, makes it plain that IGs who make corruption public may lose their jobs for doing so.

Barack and Michelle Obama learned their politics in the Chicago Democratic machine, as did a number of the members of their administration. Corruption there has been a way of life — as long as my elderly next-door neighbors can remember, they told me. And they have brought that understanding of how the world works with them to Washington. And it spreads through the ranks.

Do we now need Level II Inspector Generals to monitor the inspector generals?

Congress does search out corruption when they see it, but what they do not do is eliminate unnecessary laws and unnecessary agencies. Government does few things well. I can’t even think of an example. And most of what it does—it does badly. We need a Congress that recognizes that fact, and is willing to spend some serious time whittling down the bloated size and overreach of og government itself.

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