An EPA IT contractor in Corvallis, Ore., an admitted pornography addict, confessed to looking at smut on his government computer for 18 years. During a 12-month period spanning 2013 and 2014, “he watched pornography at least one to two hours per day,” Sullivan told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.
EPA computers block porn sites, or so officials thought. To get around the prohibition, the contractor used search engines based abroad. He also used software to scrub his computer so his habit would not be noticed. Sullivan blamed EPA “network vulnerabilities” for allowing the porn watching to go undetected for almost two decades. The contractor was fired and EPA was repaid $22,088 for that year of porn binging.
In another case, a man who was an EPA employee and a registered sex offender was stopped by Dallas police for using emergency lights on his personal vehicle. He also carried makeshift badges to pretend he was a police officer. In 2013, he was arrested for violating his probation, then fired the next January 2014. The Merit Systems Protection Board overturned the dismissal, but the agency reached an agreement with the phony officer that resulted in his resignation along with a $55,000 payment to him.
Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was stunned that the government had to pay to get rid of “this freak of a pervert.” Somebody on the committee “better sponsor a bill to get rid of perverts interacting with the public,” Chaffetz said, “because this is not acceptable.”
It certainly is not acceptable for federal employees and contractors to behave badly, much less criminally. But as Chaffetz noted, most EPA staffers are “good, hard-working, patriotic people.” After the hearing, Sullivan put that in perspective, saying less than 1 percent of EPA employees are under investigation. “The people who work here are very professional,” he added.
Data from Sullivan’s office point to a recent decline in misconduct cases. There were 124 pending employee integrity investigations at the end of September. That figure dropped to 90 by the end of March 2016. At the end of March 2015, however, there were 75 pending investigations.
Unlike last year, when the inspector general’s office criticized EPA’s “culture of complacency,” Sullivan said, “the agency’s internal adjudication process has dramatically improved” and could be considered “a ‘best practices’ model for the federal government.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) pointed out that this was the committee’s sixth hearing on EPA employees in recent years. How much is enough?
But employee behavior was not the only thing on the agenda. While the bad apples were the focus, so was the tree. Left unstated on the published schedule was the outrage Republicans have toward an agency they see as a prime example of federal government overreach.
Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), who chaired much of the hearing, used the session for an outburst against EPA generally and especially Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Gosar told Stanley Meiburg, the acting deputy administrator who also testified at the hearing, that Meiburg is in violation of the law because he continues to serve in that capacity after having been nominated for the full-time position.
Meiburg said he has been “assured by counsel that my service is lawful.”
Gosar said Meiburg’s “defiance of the law” is not surprising because “EPA under this president has a long history of blatant disregard for the law.” The Arizona Republican then charged that McCarthy, whom he wants impeached, lied to Congress and the American people.
A graphic on his website claims that “the EPA wants to control private waters . . . even puddles.” The agency also has been a leader in the Obama administration’s efforts to deal with climate change and that’s another issue that really gets Gosar.
While he identifies as “a proud Catholic,” the congressman boycotted Pope Francis’s address to Congress last year because of the pontiff’s focus on climate change, as Gosar explained in an article posted on the right-wing Townhall website.
Referring to Francis, Gosar said, “this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”
Consider the source.