Commerce IG investigated on claims of improper travel

Unnamed accusers say head auditor needlessly extended trips and authorized excessive domestic and foreign travel for himself and staff members.

A senior Commerce Department official is cooperating with three investigations into charges that he routinely took personal trips at government expense, inappropriately promoted and gave bonuses to select employees, retaliated against whistleblowers, and destroyed documents related to an investigation, his office said Friday.

Officials said Johnnie Frazier, the Clinton-appointed inspector general at Commerce, is under scrutiny by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigations arm, as well as by the Office of Special Counsel and the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, a group of presidentially appointed IGs.

"Numerous current and former employees have made … credible allegations of serious and widespread fraud, waste and abuse within your office that involves not only you personally, but also many members of your current management team," wrote Democratic and Republican leaders of the committee that oversees the Commerce Department and the heads of its investigations subcommittee, in a nine-page letter demanding documents.

The committee detailed allegations by unnamed accusers that Frazier regularly took advantage of government travel accounts to needlessly extend trips and authorized excessive domestic and foreign travel for himself and staff members. Among the alleged abuses was a meeting for senior officials in Philadelphia, at which Frazier reportedly ended a training session early so he could gamble in nearby Atlantic City.

The committee also is looking into allegations that he arranged a trip to Boston and New York that had little business value, but accommodated a personal obligation to a friend. The panel is investigating charges that the former deputy inspector general was reassigned after refusing to approve expenses from the trip, and that the former counsel to the IG was reassigned on suspicion that she had filed a complaint with the council.

"The Office of Inspector General and the department are cooperating fully with these investigations and look forward to their speedy resolution," said Carolyn Croak, acting counsel, in a statement Friday.

Croak said the IG office would not comment on ongoing investigations, but that an investigation into the Boston trip by the IG group concluded that "the allegations were not substantiated and the matter is closed." She declined to give further details of this closed investigation and a representative of the IG council could not be reached.

Croak said the IG council has opened another investigation into Frazier's activities and OSC, which handles whistleblower complaints, also is investigating.

In its list of alleged infractions, the House committee also described a no-bid contract for $150,000 that Frazier "might have improperly arranged." The committee was informed that the IG allegedly bypassed good candidates to promote close friends in the office, inappropriately awarded bonuses, and may have "destroyed, altered and/or tampered with evidence" during investigations by OSC and the IG council.

In a wide-ranging document request, the committee gave Frazier until the end of next week to produce all travel records for 15 IG employees over the last five years, as well as personnel records for 17 people, and any documents relating to investigations, senior-level meetings or personnel complaints from the last five years.

Citing the allegations of tampering with evidence, the committee asked Frazier to hire an unaffiliated party such as another inspector general to oversee the document request. Croak declined to identify whether an outside group had been engaged, but said, "We're trying to make all those arrangements."

In comments on the investigation, Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said, "It looks like something's been very wrong with Mr. Frazier's operation for a very long time. Initial evidence suggests that he's somehow managed to become exempt from the norms of honest behavior, and that's especially troubling in someone who is trusted to gauge the honest behavior of others."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.