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Jim McElhatton

Jim McElhatton

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

Articles by Jim McElhatton

Visitors line up to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, as the justices begin the second week of the new term. The landscape has changed very quickly for gay marriage in the U.S. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage. The Oct. 6 move effectively legalized gay marriage in about 30 states and triggered a flurry of rulings and confusion in lower courts across the nation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Supreme Court upholds 18-year sentence for $600 drug deal

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition Tuesday from three D.C. drug defendants serving lengthy prison sentences for dealing minor amounts of cocaine, but three justices disagreed — arguing the court missed a key opportunity to rule on an important Sixth Amendment issue. Published October 14, 2014

Passengers stand, most waiting for incoming flights, in the arrivals area at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Health screening procedures were put in place at the airport today to check the health of people arriving from Ebola-affected countries. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

CDC looks to beef up airport screening in Ebola fight

The Centers for Disease Control posted a notice Tuesday seeking airport screeners to work in major U.S. airports and perhaps even overseas as the agency tries to stop the spread of Ebola. Published October 14, 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said that the diagnosis of 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham should not be an occasion for partisan bickering over the CDC's budget as it relates to Ebola. Despite campaign bluster about cuts, Ebola falls under the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases branch, whose funding has grown to more than $390 million in 2014 alone. (Associated Press)

Ebola sparks political battle over research funding

The Ebola finger-pointing kicked into a higher gear Monday as politicians in Washington blamed each other for cutting research funding, even as the federal government's top disease chief apologized for suggesting workers at a Dallas hospital failed to follow protocols, leading to this weekend's first U.S.-contracted case of the deadly virus. Published October 13, 2014

Sybill Mikell has worked making mess trays and other products produced by Lighthouse for the Blind for decades, but shes facing the loss of her job because of a change in government procurement rules. Photo credit: Mary Lou Uttermohlen

Exclusive: Feds take jobs from disabled Americans, send them to Central Asia

Sibyl Mikell has worked in the same New Orleans warehouse by the Mississippi River docks since 1980, one of dozens of blind workers who make the mess trays sent to U.S. military forces overseas — including her own son, who finished his second tour of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year. Published October 9, 2014

"Let Israel win!" Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, said that being a supporter of Israel "means that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the recognition that Hamas is a terrorist state and that Israel should never negotiate with terrorists." (Associated Press)

VA's loyalty to reverse auction firm FedBid raises red flags

As far back as 2012, a Department of Veterans Affairs advisory board was warning about excessive sway that reverse auction firm FedBid, a well-connected contractor employing former top White House officials, had on VA contracting officers. Published October 8, 2014

The seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs is seen on the building in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

VA moves to fire executive for abusing her authority

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday proposed firing a high-ranking contracting official involved in a procurement scandal a week after an investigation found she abused her position to try to aid a prominent federal contacting firm. Published October 7, 2014

Despite the efforts of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to tamp down tension between the inspector general's office and Homeland Security, the dispute remains unresolved, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican. (Associated Press Photographs)

Issa pushes EPA chief to resolve investigator dispute

Congress's top investigator has told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to resolve a long-running dispute that Rep. Darrell Issa says is undermining the agency inspector general's ability to investigate misconduct. Published October 6, 2014

The seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs is seen on the building in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Under investigation at VA, official sought move to Energy Dept.

The central figure in a Department of Veterans Affairs procurement scandal, whom investigators ​accused of ​strong-arm​​ing​ the agency to hire a well-connected firm then lying about it, ​was set to ​begin a new job overseeing contracts for the Department of Energy (DOE) ​starting ​next week​, according to an internal announcement​. Published October 2, 2014

FILE - In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. Five top Taliban leaders held by the U.S. in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, told a visiting Afghan delegation they agree to a proposed transfer to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, Afghan officials said Saturday, March 10, 2012. The U.S. has not yet agreed to the transfer but is considering it as an incentive for the Taliban to participate in peace talks to end the decade-long war in Afghanistan and allow American troops to come home without the country descending into further chaos. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Obama’s failed promise on Gitmo costs FBI’s bottom line

President Obama's failure to make good on his promise to close the detention center for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay has forced the FBI counterterrorism division to approve a new, no-bid contract for air charter services to and from the military base on Cuba. Published October 2, 2014

Safe passage: An American doctor exposed to Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone disembarks a Gulfstream jet in a Tyvek protection suit in Maryland. (Associated Press)

U.S. has only jet to transport Ebola patients safely

As the Ebola virus spread quickly across parts of Africa in March, U.S. officials confronted a logistical nightmare: a complete lack of infrastructure in affected regions, no evacuation plans and air charter services that were unable or unwilling to fly into the region to transport seriously ill patients. Published October 1, 2014

The nearly four-year investigation by the State Department's Office of Inspector General found that in one case, DynCorp paid more than $17,000 for "facilitation" services to subcontractor Speed-Flo Filters for visas for 15 people. Typically, the visas would cost about $3,000 in total, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show (State Department images via Associated Press)

Pakistani officials bribed by agents of military contractors: IG

State Department investigators uncovered evidence that agents working for one of the largest U.S. military contractors paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Pakistani officials to obtain visas and weapons licenses, but records show the government closed the case without punishing DynCorp. Published September 30, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki pauses as he speaks at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Washington. President Barack Obama says he plans to have a "serious conversation" with Shinseki about whether he can stay in his job.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Well-connected firm FedBid faces fallout from VA contracting scandal

Investigators have recommended the government bar a Virginia company that employs a who's who list of former powerful federal officials from getting contracts after they found employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly tried to steer business to the firm. Published September 29, 2014

**FILE** Jeffrey Neely, the central figure in a General Services Administration spending scandal, sits at the witness table as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigates wasteful spending and excesses by GSA during a 2010 Las Vegas conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

GSA ‘Hot tub’ man indicted on billing charges

The central figure in a General Services Administration conference scandal that forced agencies across government to rein in spending was indicted Thursday on charges he sought reimbursement for personal travel in Las Vegas and other vacation spots then lied about it. Published September 25, 2014

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald demanding answers on what he called serious deficiencies in the Caribbean VA system, including the arrest of a top official and "inappropriate hiring practices." (Associated Press)

Caribbean VA health system under fire

The chairman of a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee demanded Thursday that new VA Secretary Bob McDonald explain serious deficiencies in the department's Caribbean Health Care System, including the arrest of a top official and a suicide note left by a veteran who said he wanted to end his life because of the poor treatment he was receiving. Published September 25, 2014

Federal porn peepers are rarely charged with time and attendance abuse, according to investigative memos on computer misuse from agencies across government. Prosecutors seem to pursue cases aggressively only when there is evidence of child pornography. Agencies dole out discipline administratively in some cases, and the identities of the employees are shielded from public disclosure, records show. (associated press)

Federal workers not punished for surfing porn while on the job

An employee at the U.S. Office of the Trustee — an arm of the Justice Department charged with overseeing the integrity of the bankruptcy system — spent up to five hours a day on the job looking at pornography, visiting more than 2,500 adult websites during 2011, investigators found. Published September 24, 2014

Iraqis mark Police Day in Baghdad. The State Department's decision to close an investigation left unresolved accusations of whether DynCorp let a subcontractor solicit kickbacks from linguists at Baghdad's police academy as a condition of continued employment. The company was hired under a nearly $1 billion task order to provide linguists to work in three Iraqi cities. (Associated Press)

Iraq stymied probe into military contractor kickbacks

State Department investigators last year quit probing kickback charges against one of the government's largest military contractors because they didn't want to go through the "lengthy" process of getting permission from the Iraqi government to interview its citizens, records show. Published September 23, 2014

Federal contractor NT Concepts for years ran an online NCAA tournament gambling website, used by both workers of the firm and federal government employees, many of whose email addresses were publicly exposed as a result of the operation. (associated press)

U.S. security contractor ran sports betting site that exposed federal email addresses

A federal contractor that helps support the government's sprawling background check operations for years hosted an NCAA tournament wagering website on one of its corporate servers, which has resulted in the public disclosure of hundreds of names and the personal, corporate and government email addresses of participants. Published September 22, 2014

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