FEMA Administrator Brock Long testifies before Congress last fall.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long testifies before Congress last fall. Susan Walsh/AP

FEMA Chief Now Facing Criminal and Lawmaker Probes of Travel

Federal prosecutors said to be mulling whether Long broke any of six laws.

With the federal response to Hurricane Florence still unfolding, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reportedly now the subject of federal prosecutors’ review of his use of agency vehicles and staff for personal trips from Washington to his home in Hickory, N.C.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday night cited “people familiar with the probe” to report that prosecutors are looking into whether Brock Long’s regular weekend trips over the past year violated any of six federal laws. The Homeland Security Department is thought to be conducting its own probe of Long’s travel expenses, though that office has not directly confirmed the news reports.

Also on Monday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Long asking for documents on his trips.

In his letter asking for relevant documents by Oct. 1, Gowdy quoted sections of the U.S. Code saying all federal official travel should be done “by the most expeditious transportation practicable” and “commensurate with the nature and purpose of the [employees’] duties.”

Long on Monday night repeated that he is cooperating with the investigations. “I am not focused on this investigation,” he said in a statement released by FEMA. “I am fully focused on those impacted by Hurricane Florence. I am looking forward to meeting with [North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Tuesday] and discussing with him how the federal government can best help him meet his response and recovery needs.”

On TV talk shows on Sunday, Long denied reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has asked for his resignation.

On Tuesday, Long got a show of support from rank and file FEMA staff. Bloomberg quoted Steve Reaves, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 4060, which represents about 5,000 FEMA workers, saying employees back Long.

“He’s definitely won my members over. I’m in support of Brock too. He’s a decent guy,” Reaves said. “If there is something found to be wrong there, it wasn’t intentional. It was a misinterpretation, or somebody counseled him incorrectly.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., whom Gowdy copied on his letter to Long, said an investigation of Long’s travel was appropriate, but a higher priority is a probe of the Trump administration’s handling of the tragedy of the deaths in Puerto Rico following last year’s hurricanes.