A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general (IG) investigation into Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Chief Brock Long, is being referred to federal prosecutors to determine whether or not criminal charges should be pursued, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, House Republicans are launching an investigation of their own into the FEMA Chief’s alleged actions.
According to POLITICO, who originally broke the story, “Long started using a staff driver to get him home to North Carolina at the beginning of his tenure at FEMA last year. On the weekends Long spent in North Carolina, aides were put up in a hotel at taxpayer expense, according to one of the current officials.”
South Carolina-Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, heard last week’s news and on Monday wrote Long a letter requesting documentation and other pertinent information related to his use of government vehicles. Gowdy gave Long a deadline of Oct. 1.
“Official travel on the part of federal employees must be ‘by the most expeditious means of transportation practicable’ and ‘commensurate with the nature and purpose of the employee’s duties,’” Gowdy explained in the letter to Long. “This does not include using government-owned or government-leased vehicles for exclusively personal reasons.”
Specifically Gowdy asked Long to:
- Identify each time you have used a government-owned or government-leased vehicle during your tenure at FEMA for personal reasons. For each usage, please provide the names of all FEMA staff who accompanied you, destinations, accommodations, dates of use, purpose, and cost of each trip.
- Produce policies relating to the use of government-owned or government-leased vehicles.
- All documents and communications referring or relating to FEMA employees being tasked with accompanying you on trips to or from North Carolina.
Long denies any wrong-doing.
“I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly,” Mr. Long told reporters during a call last Thursday. “Doing something unethical is not in my DNA.”
He briefly addressed the investigation during a Thursday FEMA briefing as well.
“Bottom line is, we’ll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on and own up to any mistakes and push forward and keep going,” he said.
“I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly,“ Long added. “Doing something unethical is not part of my DNA and it is not part of my track record in my whole entire career. We will work with the OIG.”