Justice IG absolves employees of wrongdoing in Texas flap

The Justice Department's inspector general has concluded that federal employees who were contacted for help in locating missing Texas lawmakers did not misuse government resources or violate any laws.

In May, more than 50 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives fled the state to prevent a vote on a controversial redistricting measure. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have accused Republican officials of attempting to get federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Justice and Homeland Security departments, involved in the effort to track down the state legislators who retreated to Ardmore, Okla., in protest of the Texas measure.

The Justice IG conducted an investigation and concluded that Justice employees, including employees of the FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office in Texas and the Marshals Service, received a total of nine requests for information or assistance related to the missing state lawmakers. In eight of nine instances, those federal employees contacted "promptly and appropriately declined to become involved in this state matter," the IG report said.

In one instance, an FBI special agent in Corpus Christi called one of the missing Texas legislators, Rep. Juan Escobar, confirmed he was in Oklahoma, and relayed that information to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The special agent, who knew Escobar personally and professionally from the lawmaker's days as a Border Patrol agent, said he looked into the matter to help his colleagues at DPS, according to the report.

Though the report noted that the agent "should have declined the request as a better exercise of his discretion," the IG concluded that he did not violate any FBI policy when he called Escobar and divulged his whereabouts to DPS officials.

The FBI agent made the phone calls in an "official capacity" and did not misuse government resources to obtain the information about Escobar, the report concluded. The Justice IG also determined that the FBI's Manual of Investigative Operations and Guidelines authorizes agents to simply locate or pass on various records to local agencies to facilitate cooperation between federal and local law enforcement. "The actions of the special agent appear to fall squarely within above policy," the report noted.

The report suggested that the FBI examine its written guidance to agents on handling requests for assistance from local law enforcement to encourage cooperation, when appropriate. "The expansion of the Joint Terrorism Task Forces to all 56 FBI divisions has brought FBI agents into even closer contact with their local law enforcement counterparts during a time of increasing demands on law enforcement resources nationwide," the report said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.