The Washington Post

Senators call for resignation of embattled Homeland Security auditor

Two senators have called for acting Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards to resign amid allegations of misconduct and abuse of power by the official.

Homeland Security deputy inspector general Charles Edwards (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who head the Senate subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight, said Wednesday that they plan to hold a hearing on the matter before the end of the year and that they are searching for a replacement candidate to recommend to President Obama.

“The position is too important to be left to partisan politics,” Johnson said in a statement.

The subcommittee is investigating nine claims against Edwards, including allegations of nepotism, withholding information about the Secret Service’s Colombian prostitute scandal, using official resources for personal business, and requiring subordinates to do his homework for graduate school.

The inspector general’s office on Wednesday declined to comment on the matter.

In a July statement to The Post, Edwards said the allegations against him are false and that “I will defend myself against these personal attacks.”

Johnson said “dozens of whistleblower[s]” have come forward since the subcommittee began investigating the Homeland Security auditor. “It is clear to us at this point that Charles Edwards should resign,” he said in a statement.

McCaskill and Johnson issued a letter to Edwards last week asking him to finish responding to a June request for documents and information relating to the allegations. They said he provided only partial responses to 16 of the requests and none at all to five of them.

Carlton Mann, the chief operating officer of the inspector general’s office, wrote back asking the senators to address future inquiries to him because Edwards had “recused himself from any involvement in our office’s response to your requests for documents.”

Mann said his office was “working diligently” to respond to the outstanding requests and that it had already turned over nearly 2,000 pages of documents. “We are also working to make up for time lost due to the recent lapse in appropriations,” he added.

Mann said his office would need up to 14 weeks to accommodate some of the requests because they would require extensive work rebuilding and combing through the e-mail accounts of former employees.

“We do not have the resources or manpower to devote to such complex and time-consuming search while continuing to perform our statutorily mandated duties,” Mann said.

The government watchdog group Cause of Action wrote to Obama in July asking him to fire Edwards. The organization applauded Wednesday’s bipartisan call for the inspector general’s resignation.

“The complete lack of transparency and accountability at [the Department of Homeland Security] must come to an end,” said Cause of Action director Dan Epstein. “We hope these concerns will be taken seriously and that steps are taken to remove Edwards from his position.”

Edwards’ office is leading an investigation of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, Obama’s nominee to become second-in-command at Homeland Security.

That investigation focuses on allegations that Mayorkas helped secure visas for foreign workers on behalf of a firm with ties to Virginia Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe (D) and Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mayorkas denied wrongdoing during a congressional hearing in July, telling lawmakers he met with McAuliffe only to discuss the pace of visa processing in general.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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