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Acting DHS inspector general should quit, senators say

Nov. 5, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Charles K. Edwards, Acting Inspector Gen
Charles K. Edwards, acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, listens during a 2012 hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Edwards should step down. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)

The acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security should step down, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Tuesday.

Charles Edwards “needs to resign,” McCaskill, who chairs an oversight subcommittee, said in an interview at the Capitol. “We have a number of documented cases of inappropriate behavior for somebody who’s in that role.” Among them she said, are using official resources for personal business and allowing report findings to be changed based on “inappropriate influence.”

McCaskill chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs financial and contracting oversight subcommittee. After meeting with the subcommittee’s top Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, earlier in the day, she said, “We’re going to try to schedule a hearing on all the improprieties concerning him [Edwards] in the very near future.” In a statement released late Tuesday, Johnson also urged Edwards to resign, adding that he and McCaskill are working together to find a replacement candidate to recommend to President Obama.

“The position is too important to be left to partisan politics,” Johnson said.

Bill Hillburg, a spokesman for the DHS inspector general’s office — one of the largest organizations of its type in the federal government — declined comment. In a statement this summer, Edwards said that he was confident that the allegations against him will be found “completely without merit.”

“Truth can be distorted to misrepresent circumstances and make them appear improper when they are not,” he said. Edwards does not intend to resign, Hillburg said Wednesday.

Edwards’ statement came in response to a June letter from McCaskill and Johnson asking him to turn over copious records dating back to 2010. The two lawmakers also said that Edwards appeared to be breaking the law by employing his wife as a supervisory auditor in his office.

The subcommittee has since received only partial responses to 16 of its original document requests and no responses at all to another five, McCaskill and Johnson said in a follow-up letter Oct. 30. To ensure that the no laws have been broken and that the integrity of the IG’s office has not been compromised, they said, “it is imperative that we have access to the information requested.”

Since the subcommittee’s investigation began this summer, “dozens of whistleblowers have come forward,” Johnson added Tuesday.

The IG has already supplied the subcommittee with nearly 2,000 pages of documents and intends to furnish the remainder as soon as possible, Chief Operating Officer Carlton Mann told McCaskill and Johnson in a Nov. 1 reply to their letter.

“We fully share your expressed objective of concluding this investigation as quickly as possible,” Mann added, “and will do whatever we can to help you in doing so.”

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