GOP lawmakers to EPA’s McCarthy: Stop impeding federal probes

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Two Republican congressional leaders demanded Friday that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy tell her employees to quit stonewalling federal law enforcement agents as they investigate EPA fraud and misconduct.

The request comes days after EPA's Office of Inspector General told Congress in a report that several agency offices have been obstructing its investigators, including the general counsel, chief financial officer and homeland security offices.

“It is wholly unacceptable for federal employees to refuse to cooperate with the OIG,” wrote Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, and Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican and ranking of member of the Senate panel overseeing the EPA.

The lawmakers also said in their letter to Ms. McCarthy Friday that her failure to issue a memo to reinforce the agency’s policy on cooperating with the inspector general sent the wrong message.

“As such, it appears your failure to issue a memorandum on this policy may have led EPA employees to mistakenly believe that noncooperation is permissible,” the lawmakers wrote.

Liz Purchia, EPA’s press secretary, said officials plan to respond to the lawmakers’ letter.

“I’d like to reiterate that we are committed to working with the OIG and we are committed to improving our cooperation and communication with them,” she said.

The letter is the latest report of EPA officials blocking investigations. In May, the Washington Times reported that Ms. McCarthy intervened last fall to halt an inspector general inquiry into EPA’s homeland security office. She asked for the investigation to be delayed after an employee in EPA’s homeland security office was investigated — though never charged — for assaulting an investigator at the inspector general's office.

EPA’s homeland security office, which has no law enforcement authority, came under scrutiny after delaying a big investigation in 2012 into phony CIA spy John Beale. Working at the EPA, he bilked the agency of more than $800,000 by pretending he was out of the office working as a spy.

But at a congressional hearing in May, Mr. Issa said the misconduct in the agency was more pervasive. He cited recent misconduct investigations into a senior executive who sold jewelry from her office and hired family as well as an official who spent up to six hours a day perusing pornography.

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