Porn In The EPA

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An Inspector General’s report on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and members of the House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the agency has either turned a blind eye toward — or actually rewarded — employees who watch tons of porn, sell diet pills out of their offices, get paid for not working, or hire their friends and relatives into paid internships.

The headline-getter is the unnamed porn-watcher. Allan Williams, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the EPA, told the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that the “career EPA employee” had watched hours of porn daily on his workplace computer.

Here’s a portion of Williams’ actual testimony:

One such investigation involves a career EPA employee who allegedly stored pornographic materials on an EPA network server shared by colleagues. When an OIG special agent arrived at this employee’s work space to conduct an interview, the special agent witnessed the employee actively viewing pornography on his government-issued computer. Subsequently, the employee confessed to spending, on average, between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work. The OIG’s investigation determined that the employee downloaded and viewed more than 7,000 pornographic files during duty hours.

That’s a lot of porn. USA Today reported Wednesday that the employee had been doing this since 2010. Williams said the case has been handed over to the Department of Justice.

Then there’s Renee Page in the EPA Office of Administration, whom the report alleges to have sold jewelry and weight loss products out of her office while on the clock. Page also allegedly hired 17 relatives and friends as paid interns and finagled money from the department’s budget to give to her daughter.

Finally, the report reveals a number of pay-for-no-work cases at the EPA. One involves an employee who, for five years, held a work-from-home position but did no actual work. Of course, she received more than half a million dollars in “earnings” and performance bonus pay. In all, the employee had worked from home for more than 20 years.

The report accuses an EPA “senior executive” of letting it all slide:

During the same investigation, the OIG also found evidence that implicated a senior executive. This senior executive, who was the absent employee’s prior supervisor, remained aware that the employee had been teleworking for more than 20 years with very little substantive work product to show during this time. The senior executive knew about the arrangement between the employee’s current supervisor and the absent employee. This senior executive took no action,even though he knew the EPA was being defrauded. Upon receiving a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the senior executive retired and was not prosecuted. Furthermore, the DOJ declined to prosecute either the absent employee or the current supervisor.

… During the course of the OIG’s investigation, the absent employee’s supervisor informed us that he was not the only EPA manager who was allowing employees not to report for duty.

Yet another employee who had become “physically unable” to do any work because of a debilitating illness had nevertheless worked from home for several years, before moving into an assisted living facility.

“When the employee entered the facility, the employee’s supervisor was aware of the employee’s condition and situation; however, the now former supervisor continued to allow and facilitate the employee’s retention of a full salary and benefits,” the report alleges.

If all this isn’t enough, just take comfort in the knowledge that the EPA is the same agency that gave us John Beale.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.