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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

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES
SENTENCE PENDING: Antwuan Ball, convicted of a $600 drug deal, faces 40 years in prison.

Antwuan Ball's harsh drug sentence spurs petition to Supreme Court

Two prominent civil libertarian groups have filed a joint petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case of a D.C. man serving nearly 19 years in prison after his conviction on a $600 drug deal, citing concerns about "carte blanche" powers given to federal judges. Published July 1, 2014

**FILE** Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (Associated Press)

Lawmaker pushes for interview of background firm CEO

The ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wants congressional investigators to interview the head of the government's biggest background check company, saying Monday that the firm has has failed to cooperate with Congress's inquiry into executive bonus payouts. Published June 30, 2014

VA official pressed over exec who falsely claimed degree

The official in charge of human resources at the Department of Veterans Affairs faced pointed questions from lawmakers while trying to explain Friday why a high-ranking executive who falsely claimed she'd earned a master's degree received tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses. Published June 20, 2014

** FILE ** Military personnel have their identification checked as they enter the Washington Navy Yard on Thursday, three days after a gunman opened fire inside a building and killed 12 people in September 2013. (Associated Press)

Contractor that vetted Snowden gets load of work after paying lobbyists

The background check contractor that vetted Edward Snowden and faces accusations of bogus billing from the Justice Department has doled out more than a half-million dollars to a powerful Washington lobbying firm in recent months — a strategy that seems to be paying off. Published June 18, 2014

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, greets witnesses as the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs holds a hearing to examine why thousands of military veterans have been waiting for up to three months for medical appointments, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 9, 2014.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Resume-padding VA employee got big bonuses

A top Department of Veterans Affairs executive received tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses even after an internal investigation found she lied about having a master's degree, according to a senior member of Congress who has asked the department to justify the bonus. Published June 16, 2014

FILE - This May 15, 2014 file photo shows Veterans Affairs acting Inspector General Richard Griffin testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. A private watchdog organization investigating problems in the Veterans Affairs Department defied a federal subpoena Friday to turn over to the Obama administration materials it received from federal whistleblowers. The directive ordered the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight to surrender copies of all records and identifying information from federal employees or others who submitted complaints about the VA, which they believed would remain anonymous. POGO said the material was digitally encrypted when it was submitted.  (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

VA inspector general defends subpoena to watchdog group

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General is defending its decision to issue a subpoena last week to a nonprofit watchdog group, saying the information could lead to criminal charges tied to a scandal involving patient delays and falsified wait times. Published June 16, 2014

In this Aug. 24, 2011 photo, feral hogs walk in a holding pen at Easton View Outfitters in Valley Falls, N.Y. Wildlife officials in New York are devising a strategy to stop wild hogs from proliferating to the point where they’re impossible to eradicate, as they’ve become in southern states where roaming droves have devastated crops and wildlife habitat with their rooting, wallowing and voracious foraging. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

‘Pork’ spending may curb invasive wild hogs

The feds are offering big money to anyone who can hunt and kill wild pigs on federal lands in South Carolina — the latest move in the government's battle against an invasive species causing an estimated $1.5 billion in damage to farmland and property each year. Published June 15, 2014

** FILE ** Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy holds up a pen before signing new emission guidelines during an announcement of a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030, Monday, June 2, 2014, at EPA headquarters in Washington.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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

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. Published June 13, 2014

** FILE ** Kevin Ring testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2005. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Judge keeps Jack Abramoff scandal plea records sealed

A federal judge has rejected a bid by former lobbyist Kevin Ring to unseal records in his Jack Abramoff scandal case that he says will help expose how prosecutors negotiate plea deals. Published June 12, 2014

The Department of the Interior (The Washington Times )

Flaw with guest network exposed Interior Department to possible cyberattack

The Department of Interior left itself vulnerable to a cyberattack and unwittingly granted people off the street outside of its headquarters access to a guest wireless network — a security flaw flagged only when an unknown user was detected engaging in sexually explicit online chats with a child, records show. Published June 11, 2014

The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix is seen Wednesday May 28, 2014.  About 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the Phoenix veterans hospital, the Veterans Affairs watchdog said Wednesday.  (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)  MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES

VA IG subpoenas watchdog group

A watchdog group that's trying to keep tabs on mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday that it won't comply with a law enforcement subpoena seeking its correspondence with current or former VA employees. Published June 9, 2014

One of the email addresses of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy apparently has been scrubbed. (Associated Press)

Watchdog rebuffed on EPA data turns to NSA

A pro-business watchdog group sued the National Security Agency on Monday, demanding that the spy agency turn over metadata logs for some phones registered to top EPA officials in a pioneering legal maneuver that seeks to use the government's own secret data to check up on other agencies. Published June 9, 2014

"How much pornography would it take for an EPA employee to lose their job?" an incredulous Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked an EPA deputy last week during a hearing into agency misconduct. (associated press)

Feds drop criminal charges over damaged bird nest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dropped plans to pursue criminal charges against a California tree trimmer who accidentally injured some baby birds -- an incident that attracted the attention of the House's chief investigator and charges of "bureaucratic bullying." Published June 5, 2014

Convicted murderer wins legal battle against Justice Department

Acting as his own lawyer from a federal prison cell, a D.C. man convicted of two murders has won a significant legal battle against the Justice Department, forcing federal prosecutors to acknowledge or deny the existence of taped conversations that the prisoner believes will exonerate him. Published June 5, 2014

** FILE ** This March 25, 2014, file photo shows heat from machinery distorts the air as a worker watches over a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. gas well near Mead, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Official on key EPA fracking advisory board has suspect degree

An official on the Environmental Protection Agency's hydraulic fracturing scientific advisory board got a doctorate degree from an unaccredited, shuttered online correspondence school that congressional auditors targeted a decade ago in an investigation into diploma mills. Published June 4, 2014

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks at the kick-off ceremony of a private-public partnership at the Paso del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Customs and Borders Protection is launching a pilot program in which public and private entities are allowed to give money to the federal agency to pay for infrastructure and staffing in order to cut traveler wait times at ports of entry. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca)

Mental health delays at VA system five times longer than reported

Veterans seeking mental health care through the El Paso VA system were forced to wait more than two months just to get an appointment, a delay five times longer than the Veterans Affairs Department's official estimates, according to a study released Wednesday by a congressman from Texas. Published June 4, 2014