Former federal mine safety chief J. Davitt McAteer at a meeting in Charleston, W. Va. in 2006. (BOB BIRD/AP)

McAteer worked his way into this column several times during his tenure. On one occasion he had his special assistant babysit his five kids for a couple nights at his home in West Virginia while he and his wife took off to Eastern Europe. (Labor Department ethics folks dinged him for that.)

He was in the column again when he instructed staff that money was tight and so they needed to cut travel, hiring and supplies. The staff derisively told us they thought he might want to cut back on his overseas travel.

In addition to the 17-day Eastern Europe tour in 1998, he went the next year to Luxembourg, Switzerland, South Africa and down to Latin America for 11 days. He explained that the governments of those countries had invited him. Unclear if they forced him to go.

And then there was that reckless driving plea in 2000 after his car ran off the road into some shrubs.

Still, he landed on his feet after he left government, returning to his alma mater, Wheeling Jesuit University, and becoming a vice president of the school in 2005 and in charge of the Sponsored Programs Office. So all worked out well.


A report this week says he’s leaving the school when his contract expires on June 30. His departure, his attorney, Stephen Jory, told the Associated Press, has nothing to do with a fraud investigation into how McAteer and the school handled millions of dollars of federal grants..

A NASA fraud investigator recently filed a search warrant affidavit in federal court saying there were indications the school fraudulently billed NASA millions in expenses, citing, among other things, McAteer’s salary, which, the AP said, surged from $130,300 in 2006 to $230,659 by 2008.

“We are confident,”Jory e-mailed us Thursday, “after reviewing past audits and opinions of counsel, that there was no wrongdoing” by the school “or its Sponsored Programs Office in the use and administration of government funds.”