President Obama has nominated John Roth, who heads the Food and Drug Administration's office of criminal investigations, to become the next Department of Homeland Security inspector general, a position that has been vacant since early 2011. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
Some lawmakers are welcoming President Obama’s nomination of John Roth to become the next Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
The job has been vacant since early 2011 when Richard Skinner retired; the interim inspector general has been under fire from Capitol Hill. Roth, who previously held a variety of Justice Department posts, has headed the Food and Drug Administration’s office of criminal investigations since last year.
The DHS inspector general’s office has lacked a Senate-confirmed head “for far too long,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. The job is “especially critical,” given the department’s size and complexity, he added. Carper’s committee will decide whether to forward Roth’s nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.
The IG’s work requires “a credible individual who can restore the vital trust of Congress and the American people in the integrity of its audits and investigations,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in a separate release.
The inspector general’s office is currently headed by Charles Edwards, a career employee under investigation by a Senate homeland security subcommittee for alleged improprieties, including complaints that he violated anti-nepotism rules by employing his wife as a supervisory auditor and changed audit findings in response to political pressure. Edwards has said he is confident that the allegations against him will be found “completely without merit.”
Earlier this month, however, Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairwoman and top Republican respectively on the Senate homeland security subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight, both called on him to resign.
Based on input from dozens of IG staff members, “it is apparent the office is not functioning as it should,” Johnson said in a Monday statement. “Any future IG must provide leadership that will restore integrity to the office and gains the respect and trust of ... employees.” A McCaskill spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Before joining the FDA. Roth spent 25 years at the Justice Department, including assignments as an assistant U.S. attorney, chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, and special counsel for international money laundering policy, according to a career summary released by the White House late last week in connection with his nomination for the IG’s post.