A Senate oversight panel is probing accusations that Charles Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, put his wife on his office’s payroll; used IG staff to drive him and his wife on personal errands; penalized employees who challenged his behavior; and shared confidential whistle-blower information with DHS officials, among other alleged acts of malfeasance.
In the past year, “we have been alerted by numerous whistle-blowers to allegations of misconduct and abuse by you,” Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a letter last week to Edwards that asked him to turn over numerous records dating back to mid-2010. McCaskill chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight; Johnson is the subcommittee’s top Republican.
In a written statement, Edwards said that most of the allegations are not new and that similar accusations have been reviewed and dismissed by “various oversight bodies,” including the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
“Allegations can be lodged anonymously by anyone,” Edwards said. “Truth can be distorted to misrepresent circumstances and make them appear improper when they are not.”
“I am confident that the allegations will be shown for what they are — completely without merit,” he concluded.
In the June 27 letter posted on the subcommittee’s website, McCaskill and Johnson also asked that Edwards permit four employees to be interviewed by the panel’s staff. They set a July 19 deadline for the interviews and receipt of the requested records.
According to the allegations in the letter, Edwards employs his wife as a supervisory auditor in his office.
“Her continued employment appears to violate laws and regulations governing prohibited personnel practices,” the two lawmakers wrote.
As acting inspector general, Edwards oversees the third-largest federal agency. He has been in the post since February 2011 and has previously worked for the U.S. Postal Service, the USPS inspector general and the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of DHS.