- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
House probes Homeland Security official’s role in corruption case
Question of the Day
A powerful House subcommittee chairman said Monday that his investigators have begun reviewing how a key figure in a Pennsylvania corruption case landed the chief of staff’s job at the Homeland Security Department.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, whose House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security has some oversight responsibility for Homeland Security, said he was particularly concerned about how the Obama administration vetted Christian Marrone for the sensitive position that he started Monday.
The Washington Times reported Monday that Mr. Marrone acknowledged in court testimony in 2008 that he took a taxpayer salary as a Pennsylvania legislative aide while doing private work overseeing renovation work at the personal mansion of state Sen. Vincent Fumo. He was one of more than a half-dozen state Senate employees who performed personal or political work for Mr. Fumo on government time, according to court records.
Mr. Marrone, who worked for Mr. Fumo straight out of college from 1997 to 2002, was a central prosecution witness in the federal criminal trial that led to the conviction of his former boss and father-in-law, Mr. Fumo, on more than 100 corruption charges. At the time of his 2008 court testimony, he had been cleared to work in the Pentagon, where he held the job of principal assistant secretary of legislative affairs, among other positions.
“This is a key position and you have to have the utmost in integrity, and his appointment begs a lot of questions about what the administration knew and what did they do during the vetting process,” Mr. Chaffetz said in an interview with The Times.
The lawmaker noted that Mr. Marrone’s position helps oversee billions of dollars in taxpayer money dedicated to Homeland Security and possesses sensitive intelligence about emerging terrorism threats. “It’s too important a position to mess around with someone who has a questionable background,” Mr. Chaffetz said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Marrone spent 80 percent of his first year and a half working for Mr. Fumo overseeing the renovation of the politician’s mansion. He also testified that he drew only a government salary and, like other workers in the office, never kept track of his hours.
Mr. Marrone married Mr. Fumo’s daughter, who had a falling-out with the former lawmaker.
The White House and Homeland Security Department defended Mr. Marrone’s appointment but refused to say what information about the Pennsylvania corruption case turned up in his background check and whether Secretary Jeh Johnson knew of the testimony before selecting Mr. Marrone as his top aide.
Still, court records show Mr. Johnson at least knew of Mr. Fumo. A private lawyer at the time, Mr. Johnson represented a polling firm that received a grand jury subpoena in the Fumo case, a topic unrelated to Mr. Marrone’s activities.
Meanwhile, administration officials pointed out to reporters Monday that Mr. Marrone received praise as a Pentagon aide, including from recently retired Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
Mr. Chaffetz said praise in a book hardly constitutes a thorough background check for a job as sensitive as Mr. Marrone’s.
“Just because your name appeared in a book by a defense secretary doesn’t mean you’re the right person,” the lawmaker said. “We’re going to ask for their background file and what did they know and when did they know it.”
“We have some serious concerns and questions, and we want to probe into the matter and give the administration the opportunity to respond to what are very serious concerns,” he added.
Asked by The Times on Monday whether Mr. Marrone is qualified for a highly sensitive government job, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Mr. Marrone also worked as a top Defense Department official in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop 'making excuses' for economy
- YALI2014: Obama to meet young African leaders amid economic push
- Obama urges Netanyahu to accept cease fire
Latest Blog Entries
- Obama and Boehner congratulate U.S. men's hockey on win over Russia
- Americans say income gap will shrink if government butts out, poll shows
- WH spokesman Jay Carney recognizes beard's 'insufficiency,' shaves it off
- Obama misses deadline again on budget
- Biden burns rubber in driveway, laments road restrictions
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- House federal records plan would prevent repeat of IRS email scandal
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- Outrage over $190M deal for troubled federal contractor USIS
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- White House warned about 'antiquated' VA scheduling system 5 years ago
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Scott Pinsker
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Ohio sheriff sends bill to Mexico for cost of jailing illegals
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq