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Jim McElhatton

Jim McElhatton

Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Articles by Jim McElhatton

Secretary of State John Kerry rubs his eyes on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the US strategy to defeat the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

State Department downplayed Islamic State threat, privately ramped up security

Weeks before the State Department assured Americans that things were operating "normally" at its consulate in the Kurdish capital of Erbil in August, concerned procurement officials were quietly saying the advance of militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, meant the government needed to shell out tens of millions of dollars to counter a "rapidly deteriorating" security situation. Published September 17, 2014

A conservative group says the Department of the Treasury has heretofore ignored its request seeking the records of a meeting between Treasury officials and billionaire Democratic fundraiser Tom Steyer. (Associated Press)

Patriots Foundation seeks details on Treasury meeting with Steyer

A nonprofit group headed by a former top Iowa Republican Party official is suing the Treasury Department, saying the agency has ignored its request for records of a meeting between Treasury officials and the Democratic fundraiser and billionaire Tom Steyer. Published September 15, 2014

Lawmaker pushes for subpoena of background check firm

The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Monday that he wants to subpoena the head of a troubled government background check contractor to explain how they can continue to win government work after having been accused of fraud by the Justice Department. Published September 15, 2014

Washinton Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and Edward Snowden (TWT Photo Illustration)

FILE - This June 9, 2013 file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong. Snowden says his "mission's already accomplished" after leaking NSA secrets that have caused a reassessment of U.S. surveillance policies. Snowden told The Washington Post in a story published online Monday night, Dec. 23, 2013, he has "already won" because journalists have been able to tell the story of the government's collection of bulk Internet and phone records. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)

Feds fire firm that checked backgrounds of Snowden, Alexis

The federal government's largest background check company was fired by the Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday after a spate of bad news, including a Justice Department lawsuit, a cyberattack and congressional scrutiny over its vetting of Edward Snowden. Published September 9, 2014

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office building in Alexandria, Va., has a contemporary look, but Senators trying to update the patent system say it's stuck in the 1950s and needs to catch up with 21st-century technology. A bipartisan bill to reform the system is headed for Senate debate. (Associated Press)

Patent Office head to step down amid nepotism charge

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she'd pressured staff to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other qualified applicants. Published September 8, 2014

Edward Snowden

Background contractor USIS says it followed all laws

The contractor who performs the lion's share of background checks for the federal government defended its work on Monday, saying it followed the rules and provided complete reports in the cases of Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Published September 8, 2014

High ranking VA official faced drug charge after DUI arrest

A high-ranking Veterans Affairs official who oversees nearly a dozen medical facilities was charged with drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance on a Florida roadside at nearly 2 a.m. one night in April, repeatedly refusing a Breathalyzer before he was taken to jail, records show. Published September 7, 2014

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican (Associated Press) **FILE**

Issa demands interview with IRS lawyer facing disbarment

The House's top investigator sent a letter Wednesday demanding answers from an IRS lawyer in the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility who is facing disbarment and whom a whistleblower has accused of losing IRS files on a party bus to Atlantic City. Published September 3, 2014

Top EPA official accused of assault denies charges

A top official in the EPA's Homeland Security office accused of assaulting a federal agent and stonewalling the agent's investigation says he's been unfairly smeared in a "campaign of harassment" by the press and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Published September 3, 2014

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. The agency has been under fire for what critics say are politically motivated attacks against conservative organizations. (Associated Press)

IRS lawyer gave ethics training despite complaint against her

The head of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility testified this year that she and her staff must be "impeccable," just weeks before she sent a top aide whose law license had been suspended to lecture tax lawyers on ethics. Published September 2, 2014

Under Gina McCarthy,  The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle, collecting more fines and hitting individuals with penalties for violating environmental rules. (Associated Press)

EPA investigator pushes for action on assault

A government investigator says that the Environmental Protection Agency continues to "coddle" a key figure in her stonewalled investigation into a controversial EPA office. Published September 2, 2014

IRS Photo illustration

IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying

A lawyer in the IRS ethics office is facing the possibility of being disbarred, according to records that accuse her of lying to a court-appointed board and hiding what she'd done with money from a settlement that was supposed to go to two medical providers who had treated her client. Published August 26, 2014

Antwuan Ball was convicted for a $600 drug deal. His appeal, along with two co-defendants, is the latest challenge against a practice called acquitted conduct sentencing, which allows judges to dole out tougher sentences based on findings jurors rejected. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Supreme Court may take up D.C. drug case

The Supreme Court will meet next month to decide whether to hear the appeal of a D.C. man serving 18 years in prison on a $600 drug deal — a case championed by civil liberties groups, who say it provides a case study in judicial overreach. Published August 25, 2014

Critics say that redacted information about Treasury Department dealings with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may prove embarrassing to the Obama White House. (associated press)

Judge rejects Obama administration secrecy on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

A federal judge has issued a stinging rebuke to the Obama administration's recent attempt to shield documents from disclosure in a case that could yield important clues about the Treasury Department's relationship with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Published August 24, 2014

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, called the actions of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official Deborah Cohn "appalling and unbefitting a federal official" when she used her influence to find a job for a relative's live-in boyfriend, and then threatened to sue when the government was about to make her case public. He has demanded that Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker take "immediate action" to discipline Ms. Cohn. (Associated Press)

Congress fumes as idle federal workers went shopping, sent on private errands

The House's top investigator pressed the Commerce Department on Wednesday to take action on a telework scandal at the U.S. Patent and Trade Organization, where dozens of paralegals got paid while they went shopping, watched television and caught up on chores — all with the knowledge of supervisors. Published August 20, 2014

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from several officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

IRS data lapse first uncovered by private firm

Recent criminal charges against an IRS employee accused of storing personal information about more than 20,000 employees and contractors on his home computer network stemmed from the work of a research firm hacker who stumbled across the agency security flaw and reported it to the government. Published August 19, 2014