Another EPA official caught in former staffer’s web of deception; he claimed to work for CIA

Another high-level EPA staffer has been caught up in the bizarre John Beale ­
CIA-impersonator scandal.

Beth Craig approved fraudulent time and travel vouchers for Beale for a decade, costing the government $184,193.32, according to an inspector general’s report obtained by the Loop.

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

Craig, director of climate-protection partnerships at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), approved unwarranted time and expenses for agency policy adviser Beale, who masqueraded as a CIA agent to steal a total of $900,000 in government pay, bonuses and expenses. Beale pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

The Washington Post reported in December that there would be an investigation into a “woman of interest” for “possible administrative misconduct” related to the case.

The report by the Office of Inspector General, dated April 17, was sent to Janet McCabe, the acting OAR administrator. It says that Craig failed to “exercise due diligence” and that it is now up to McCabe to determine what actions to take against her. An OAR official told the Loop that the agency has not yet received the documents and that, to the best of her knowledge, Craig was still employed there.

A spokeswoman for the inspector general said she could not comment on personnel-related reports of an investigation even to confirm whether it had reached McCabe.

The expenses Craig processed for Beale would sometimes exceed $20,000 for a single trip. In 2007, for example, Beale traveled to England, Sweden, India and Los Angeles on the taxpayer dime, charging $36,103.51.

The report also says that Craig knew that Beale claimed that he worked for the CIA and that she approved his timecards though he was rarely at work. Beale would often tell Craig that he had to “go to Langley,” according to the report. “Craig explained that she did not ask for details regarding Beale’s CIA work and agreements because she assumed it was true and the documents existed,” the report said.

Craig is the second EPA official, apart from Beale, to be implicated in the scandal. Former EPA administrator Robert Brenner recommended “retention bonuses” for Beale, a close friend of his. When he showed up at a House hearing about Beale, Brenner was eviscerated for accepting a discount from a lobbyist on a Mercedes.

Republicans have faulted EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for letting two years pass before taking action against Beale. She was the acting administrator during that period. McCarthy has said she was advised by Craig Hooks, head of the Office of Administration and Resource Management, not to pursue it because it was a criminal case.

The private sector calls

In the world of law, you can come home again.

Kathryn Ruemmler, the departing White House counsel, will return to private practice next month, and we’re hearing she’s headed straight back to Latham & Watkins, where she was a partner for two years before she joined the new administration in 2009.

Ruemmler was a white-collar defense litigator, a practice she plans to return to, before joining the Justice Department as an associate deputy attorney general. She’s been President Obama’s top lawyer since 2011.

According to reports, Ruemmler, who had tried to leave the White House months earlier but was urged to stay on, will practice in New York. Obama announced Neil Eggleston, a veteran Washington lawyer, as Ruemmler’s replacement a little more than a week ago.

The Loop asked Latham & Watkins to confirm, but did not get a response.

Back in Cold War Warsaw

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull will now know exactly what the Communists had on him in the 1980s.

Mull tweeted Wednesday that he had visited Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance and was given “20 lbs of formerly secret files on my stay in communist Poland!”

Mull worked as a junior Foreign Service officer in the mid-1980s. At his Senate confirmation hearing in September 2012, Mull said he “fondly” remembered “carrying messages of support between Lech Walesa and President Reagan, and meeting many of the activists who would later lead Poland to freedom.”

That job, obviously, would have put him on the Communists’ radar. The institution, according to its Web site, keeps archives of documents the party’s political police kept on “people who were objects of invigilation.”

President Obama is expected to visit Poland in June for the 25th anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw wasted no time creating a hashtag for the visit — #ObamaPL — and tweeted a picture of a (much younger) Obama superimposed in the country’s capital with a message in Polish that roughly translates to: “We remind you that the official hashtag June visit of President Obama in Poland.”

New No. 2 at the Pentagon

The Senate unanimously confirmed Robert Work to be deputy secretary of defense on Wednesday evening.

A former Marine, Work served as undersecretary of the Navy from May 2009 to March 2013. Work replaces Ashton Carter, who left the job in December.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had threatened to block Work’s nomination after Work defended the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program. McCain became frustrated with Work for having not read a Government Accountability Office report critical of the program.

— With Colby Itkowitz

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

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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