- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
House probes Homeland Security official’s role in corruption case
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.
- Obama commutes drug dealer's sentence because of clerical error
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- Obama calls for prayer on anniversary of Boston Marathon bombing
- Obama urges Putin to defuse Russian separatism in Ukraine
- Obama: Time for stand against 'religious-based' violence
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.
- HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell entangled in MetLife lawsuit
- HHS nominee got $1.2M at 'zero' salary job at Wal-Mart
- Federal workers watch 'Star Trek' on clock
- Sen. Menendez pal Salomon Melgen collected $20 million from Medicare
- U.S. picks up $700 million tab for coalition's food and laundry in Afghanistan
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.