Who watches the watchdog? DHS official faces abuse, nepotism accusations
The acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security claimed expenses for personal travel, hired his wife as an auditor and retaliated against staff who complained, according to documents obtained by the New York Post.
The documents show that Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards — the watchdog charged with rooting our fraud and abuse in the department’s $59 billion budget — took at least four trips to South Florida for personal reasons, the Post reported.
Mr. Edwards denies any wrongdoing.
Mr. Edwards was working toward a computer degree at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale in 2011 and 2012, and travel receipts he submitted list the university’s name next to the rate charged by a hotel.
The documents corroborate charges by whistleblowers who told two lawmakers and a nonprofit group that Mr. Edwards was using so-called government “site visits” for his own personal advancement.
“If those allegations turn out to be true, then this deputy inspector general is violating his role as a public servant who is being paid on the taxpayer dime,” said Mary Beth Hutchins of Cause of Action, which provided the documents obtained by the Post via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Mr. Edwards also gave bonuses to employees who helped him complete school assignments and write his doctoral dissertation, and he retaliated when employees complained about his conduct, according to Sens. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, and Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, who are investigating the matter.
Cause of Action officials said the documents also could reveal nepotism: Mr. Edwards employed his wife, Madhuri Edwards, as an auditor in his office in apparent violation of the agency’s anti-nepotism rules, according to Mr. Johnson and Ms. McCaskill.
Mrs. Edwards was able to get permission to telecommute from India for at least five months, internal documents reveal.
In a letter to the two senators, Mr. Edwards denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations “false” and “completely without merit.”
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