Monday, December 16

Corruption at the very top of the EPA

The "Environmental Protection Agency" is typical of most government agencies, in that it's a cesspool of corruption and incompetence.  If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the just-now-breaking case of the highest-paid person at the EPA: one John C. Beale, ostensibly a “senior policy adviser” in the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Beale seems to be a long-term con artist, serial liar and bullshit artist.  His main con was spending long periods of time away from the office but nevertheless drawing his salary. 

In 2008 Beale didn’t show up at the EPA for six months, telling his boss that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California that were made purely “for personal reasons,” his lawyer acknowledged. (His parents lived there.) He also claimed to be suffering from malaria that he got while serving in Vietnam. According to his lawyer’s filing, he didn’t have malaria and never served in Vietnam. He told the story to EPA officials so he could get special handicap parking at a garage near EPA headquarters. 

In 2011 Beale topped that, relaxing at home for 18 months straight without showing up at the office.  And no one at the EPA had the slightest misgivings.

When he travelled on EPA business, most of the time he travelled first class and stayed at high end hotels charging more than twice the government’s allowed per diem limit yet his expense vouchers were routinely approved by another EPA official whose conduct is now being reviewed by the inspector general, according to congressional investigators briefed on the report.

Beale's ability to draw the top salary in the EPA without showing up was so successful that he planned yet another edition:  In September of 2011 top EPA officials--including Beale's immediate boss, EPA chief Gina McCarthy--attended a lavish retirement party for Beale and two colleagues aboard a Potomac yacht.  But six months later McCarthy learned Beale was still on the payroll.  On March 29, 2012 she initiated a review that was forwarded to the EPA general counsel’s office.  But interestingly, the agency's inspector general’s office was not alerted for another 11 months, in February 2013.  The agency only stopped sending Beale salary checks in April of this year.

As reporter Michael Isikoff writes with magnificent understatement, the case raises larger questions about how he was able to get away with his admitted fraud for so long, according to federal and congressional investigators. Two new reports by the EPA inspector general’s office conclude that top officials at the agency “enabled” Beale by failing to verify any of his phony cover stories about CIA work, and failing to check on hundreds of thousands of dollars paid him in undeserved bonuses and travel expenses -- including first-class trips to London where he stayed at five-star hotels and racked up thousands in bills for limos and taxis.

But never forget, citizen:  These EPA people are incredibly competent.  When they ram through a regulation to ban coal plants, or carbon emissions, or CO2, or fossil fuels, you can be sure they haven't been influenced by even a shred of corruption.  Cuz, like, they're totes honest and incorruptible.  And did we mention competent?

Oh, and for my Democrat friends who sneer that everything critical of the Holy One's administration is just racist and comes solely from Faux News...well, I guess you got me.  This report is from that solidly conservative outlet, NBC.

Let's see how many other media outlets run with this.  Specifically, what page will the NY Times and WaPo run it on?  That'll cue the lesser lights as to whether it's a notable story or not.

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