Senators say embattled DHS IG slow to respond to requests for information

Friday - 11/1/2013, 4:52pm EDT

Two top senators on a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee say the acting inspector general of the Homeland Security Department has failed to fully comply with requests for information as part of the committee's investigation into allegations of nepotism and misuse of agency resources.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Financial and Contracting Oversight subcommittee, wrote to the Deputy IG Charles Edwards Wednesday pressing him to respond to their requests.

"We are writing to express our concerns over the delay in your response to our investigation of allegations of misconduct and abuse by you in your position," McCaskill and Johnson wrote in the letter.

The subcommittee first wrote to Edwards in June amid whisteblower allegations that he violated anti-nepotism laws by employing his wife at the IG's office, abused agency resources to pursue a degree at a south Florida university and retaliated against DHS staff who attempted to call attention to the alleged misconduct.

Edwards also stood accused of directing IG staff to help him with school assignments and even write his doctoral dissertation as well as requiring staff to drive him and his wife "around Washington, D.C. on personal errands," according to lawmakers' June 27 letter.

In a July 23 interview with Federal News Radio, Edwards refuted those allegations as "baseless" and said they were coming from a "handful of people" dissatisfied with the way he's managed the office. He also said he had fully complied with the subcommittee's request for documentation regarding his wife's employment at the agency and records of his official travel.

But lawmakers say they're still waiting to hear back from Edwards.

"Over four months have passed since our request and the subcommittee has received only partial responses to our sixteen document requests, and no response at all to five requests," the letter stated.

Edwards has, so far, failed to turn over most of the email communications requested by the subcommittee, according to the letter. In addition, the IG's office has failed to even conduct electronic searches for some of the materials, the letter stated.

The IG hasn't provided additional documentation to the subcommittee since Sept. 6, and six senior special agents declined to be interviewed by subcommittee staff.

"In order to ensure that federal laws have not been broken, and that the integrity of the Office of Inspector General has not been compromised, it is imperative that we have access to the information requested," McCaskill and Johnson wrote. "In the interests of concluding this investigation as quickly as possible, we urge you to fully comply with the subcommittee's requests in a timely fashion."

The DHS IG office declined Federal News Radio's request for comment.

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