A former high-ranking EPA staffer convicted of stealing nearly $900,000 by pretending to be a CIA spy had virtually no experience, got his job with help from a college buddy, and went on to play a key role in sweeping environmental regulations, according to a report Senate Republicans released Wednesday.
Those regulations remain in place despite John C. Beale’s lack of environmental expertise, Republican investigators said, adding that they want the Environmental Protection Agency to review the work in which Beale was involved during his 24-year tenure.
The report said Beale led an “itinerant life” as a police officer and a physical therapist in California before heading to Princeton University in the 1970s. It was at Princeton, the report said, where Beale befriended Robert Brenner, who later would become the EPA’s deputy assistant administrator.
“Rather than recruit someone with the requisite experience, Brenner sought out Beale in what appears to be a decision based solely on their personal friendship rather than any experience or credentials,” said conclusions of the report by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Beale is now in prison on theft charges after admitting he ditched EPA work, claiming to be a CIA spy. Republicans say the EPA should disclose the underlying science behind the regulatory decisions in which Beale took part.
Beale “was just one of a large number of people from a number of disciplines across the Agency who provided input on those rules,” EPA spokeswoman Elisha Johnson said in an email responding to the report.
“The standards followed the routine open, transparent and public process, providing opportunities for public and interagency review and comment prior to their finalization.”
“Today’s report connects the dots between John Beale and the numerous air regulations that he’s responsible for, regulations with a lasting impact that are costing many Americans their jobs and hard-earned wages,” said Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the ranking Republican on the committee.
The staff report also noted that the EPA has relied on “secret science” to justify most of its Clean Air Act regulations.
Tracing his unusual route into the agency, investigators found that Beale graduated from law school but failed the Washington state bar exam and was fired from his first job at a law firm. Beale also worked for 2 years on his cousin’s apple farm, then practiced law in the small town of Lake City, Minn., after eventually passing the bar exam.