Group Wants Obama to Fire Homeland Security Watchdog

By Kellie Lunney

July 1, 2013

A nonpartisan government accountability group on Monday called for the ouster of the Homeland Security Department’s watchdog because of alleged misconduct and abuse of power.

Cause of Action investigated Deputy Inspector General Charles Edwards and his office for more than a year, claiming Edwards misused public resources, intimidated and retaliated against employees, and improperly gave his wife a job as a supervisor in his office. The organization is asking the White House to remove Edwards from his job. Edwards served as acting IG between February 2011 and January 2013, when he resumed the No. 2 job. He still serves as the de facto head of the office, however, since the top auditor job remains vacant.

“Edwards’ poor management skills and misbehavior have created a toxic and largely dysfunctional environment at DHS OIG,” stated a July 1 letter to President Obama from Daniel Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. Epstein’s letter quoted a source who said employees in Edwards’ office were “basically…eating each other alive.”

A Senate subcommittee is also investigating the complaints against Edwards, which include requiring employees to drive him and his wife around on personal errands, withholding information related to the Secret Service’s encounters with Colombian prostitutes, and offering bonuses to employees who helped him with his doctorate studies.

Cause of Action also filed a lawsuit in June against the DHS OIG, claiming the office improperly withheld agency records the group requested under the Freedom of Information Act that are related to Edwards’ official travel and complaints against him.

William Hillburg, a spokesman for the IG’s office at Homeland Security, would not comment on Cause of Action’s allegations or letter.

Correction: The original version of this story had a typo in the name of the nonprofit group Cause of Action.


By Kellie Lunney

July 1, 2013

http://www.govexec.com/management/2013/07/group-wants-obama-fire-homeland-security-watchdog/65915/