A Penn Stater’s new government gig

July 26, 2012

Graham Spanier may have been ousted from his post as Penn State president over the sex-abuse scandal that engulfed the university, but it seems he’s found a backup employer: the American taxpayer.

Spanier was faulted in an internal Penn State report after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child molestation. The report said that Spanier, head coach Joe Paterno and others helped cover up Sandusky’s abuse.

His attorney confirms to the Loop that Spanier is working as a part-time consultant for a “top-secret” agency on national security issues. But the gig is so hush-hush, he couldn’t even tell his attorneys the name of the agency.

In April — months after his ouster as president but before the release of the internal report — he told the Patriot-News of central Pennsylvania that he was working on a “special project for the U.S. government relating [to] national security.”

But who’s he working for? The CIA? Homeland Security? A consulting firm with a government contract?


Former Penn State University president Graham Spanier will be working as a part-time consultant for a “top-secret” agency on national security issues. But the gig is so hush-hush, Spanier couldn’t even tell his attorneys the name of the agency. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

“I have no idea,” said his attorney, Peter Vaira . “We know the work is in security and he’s prohibited from disclosing which agency or agencies he’s working for.”

After the internal report — by former FBI director Louis Freeh — was released, Spanier complained in a statement from his attorneys that the document didn’t mention his government clearance — something he apparently thought was evidence of his trustworthiness. He noted that his security clearance (which he apparently had obtained while still at Penn State) “required a re-review when the Sandusky matter surfaced in November” and that federal investigators conducted their own probe of his role in the scandal. The federal investigation ended with his clearance being “reaffirmed,” the statement read.

The Office of Personnel Management, essentially the federal government’s human resources department, didn’t shed any light on Spanier’s mysterious gig as a possible federal employee. They instructed us to call individual agencies, even though we pointed out that we didn’t know which agencies to contact.

Have you spotted Spanier, sporting a government ID on a lanyard, and perhaps carrying a brown-bag lunch? Let us know at intheloop@washpost.com.

No girls allowed

To reporters, little is sacrosanct. We ask personal questions without batting an eyelash, stake out private meetings with impunity and make general nuisances of ourselves.

But there are some thresholds even most journos won’t cross in pursuit of a story — like the bathroom door.

Last night, one reporter’s zeal to get a quote from Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) led her into verboten territory: the men’s room off the House floor.

Dreier apparently decided to play a little prank on the (female) reporters who were chasing him and pressing him for details about a possible emergency meeting of the Rules Committee, the panel he chairs.

Upon reaching the door to the loo, he playfully swung it open and jokingly said something to the effect of “Come on in — we’ll talk about it.”

CQ reporter Rachael Bade assumed the door led to a private room and took a few steps in, not understanding why other reporters weren’t following. She quickly realized her error and made a hasty about-face, but she took it all in stride.

“I totally fell for his little trap,” she tells us. “Everyone was laughing.”

Points for effort!

A beef with the USDA

On Monday, a U.S Department of Agriculture employee newsletter encouraged folks to start “going meatless” on Mondays as a way to help the environment, save resources, improve health and so on.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other industry groups were outraged. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon to protest the newsletter.

The Agriculture Department’s mission was “to promote agriculture, to help those who . . . produce food, fiber and fuel for this country and the world,” he said. “Yet our own Department of Agriculture is encouraging people not to eat meat.”

A department official promptly sent an e-mail to Senate staff : “I wanted to be sure you had the following statement regarding the claims that USDA is promoting ‘Meatless Mondays,’ ” she wrote.  “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

Former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green in his prime couldn’t have backpedaled faster.

Salt in the wound

The Loop Quote of the Week award goes to British Prime Minister David Cameron . (He also wins Nasty Retort of the Week.)

It started Wednesday when Mitt Romney, who ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and of course is now running for president, told NBC News that he found the British preparations for the upcoming Summer Games “disconcerting,” citing reports of security and other problems.

Seems like a completely reasonable observation.

But Cameron was most annoyed.

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” he said. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

Ouch!

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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