Watchdog: Gettysburg park chief violated ethics rules, accepted $23K in vouchers

Watchdog: Gettysburg park chief violated ethics rules, accepted $23K in vouchers
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The former head of Gettysburg National Military Park accepted over $23,000 in travel vouchers and gifts from a private, non-government organization over the course of two years, actions a government watchdog is calling criminal.

Ed Clark, who served as superintendent of the park until last year, additionally violated ethics rules by soliciting funds on behalf of the private Gettysburg Foundation, according to a report released by the Department of Interior Inspector General’s Office on Thursday.

The inspector general found that Clark solicited the funds in a non-official “liaison to the foundation” role that included hosting a foundation-funded dinner for his government employees.

The watchdog investigation, which started in September 2016 following an anonymous complaint, found that Clark traveled 27 times to attend events organized by the foundation between February 2014 and October 2016.

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Clark did not seek ethics approval prior to taking each foundation-paid trip and often flew on a private jet, which is a violation of federal law, the report noted. Additionally, he allegedly covered his tracks by submitting false travel vouchers on the cost of the trips.

One example highlighted in the report was a $400 cost estimate Clark submitted for flying on the private plane owned by a construction company frequently used by the foundation. The inspector general's own estimate of the costs of the plane travel was over $7,000. The four trips he took were also estimated to have cost the company $13,762.

The report additionally found that Clark accepted meals and other gifts from the foundation as compensation for his services. On a number of occasions Clark also requested and pocketed full per diem reimbursement for meals and travel from the National Park Service (NPS) on the days the foundation paid for those services.

The Gettysburg Foundation has been in partnership with the Gettysburg National Park since 2002 and currently runs the park’s visitor center. It’s also constructed a number of projects throughout the park.

The inspector general's office referred the investigation to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, but it declined to prosecute Clark.

The U.S. Attorney's Office did not return a request for comment as to why they did not pursue the case.

Clark was reportedly reassigned to a Parks Service office based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., last year. Chris Stein was named the acting superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park this past March and served until July, when Lewis Rogers Jr. was announced for the role. Rogers was slated to serve in the role until late November.