Republicans question EPA head on fake CIA agent case

 

Senate Republicans used a Wednesday hearing about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget to criticize EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy over the agency’s handling of former employee and fake CIA agent John Beale.

Sen. David Vitter (La.), the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, said the agency took too long to cancel bonuses that Beale was receiving and that put him over the legal salary limit.

 “We now know that EPA dithered for years rather than take action against a fake CIA agent who stole over $1 million of taxpayer money,” Vitter said.

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Beale pled guilty last year to stealing money and benefits from EPA by skipping work while pretending to be a CIA agent for years. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison and agreed to pay back the money he stole and additional fines.

But Republicans on the panel sought to use Beale’s case to demonstrate major problems with EPA.

“I do think this case represents a very broken bureaucracy, long term, that it’s not an isolated incident,” Vitter said.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) questioned the regulations that Beale helped to write. A recent report by the EPW Republicans alleged that, as a top official in EPA’s office that regulates air quality, Beale had a key role in writing particulate matter and ozone standards that have proven costly for coal power plants.

“It seems difficult to conclude that any of Mr. Beale’s work on the many issues under his responsibility at the EPA can be taken at face value,” Crapo said. “As such I would like to take this opportunity to call for a robust review of all rulemakings and regulatory actions connected with his service at EPA.”

EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) defended the agency and McCarthy.

“There’s this attempt now to blame all the clean air regulations on this rogue employee who’s now in jail. Is it not true that any kind of proposed rule goes through public comment, peer review, interagency review and subjected to judicial review,” Boxer asked, and McCarthy agreed.

“He is in no way indicative of employees at EPA,” McCarthy said. “They are hard-working, professional, dedicated public servants.”

McCarthy, who was Beale’s direct supervisor before she became administrator, also defended her own actions. She was notified of his illegal bonuses in early 2011, but the bonuses weren’t canceled until 2013.

“It took a while to get to the bottom of the John Beale issue, because he was a criminal that systemically intended to defraud the agency. But the good news is that he is in federal prison right now,” she said.