Administration

SEC watchdog kept on job despite 'serious misconduct': Reuters

Inspector General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Carl Hoecker was permitted to keep his job even after a 2019 investigation recommended that he be fired for "serious misconduct."

Government documents obtained by Reuters through a public records request showed that instead of firing Hoecker, the SEC decided to place him on an unpaid temporary suspension in May 2020. Hoecker has since returned to work.

The investigation into Hoecker was conducted by the Integrity Committee, which is a federal panel tasked with probing allegations of wrongdoing against inspector generals.

Reuters reported the committee determined that Hoecker abused his authority and carried out a "remarkably biased and flawed" probe into allegations against two of his employees who allegedly had a sexual relationship.

According to the committee, Hoecker's investigation "created the appearance that he attempted to conceal potential wrongdoing" by the two employees, who had worked for him at another agency. The two employees - a female worker and her male supervisor - allegedly left work while still being paid in order to spend time together.

The male supervisor was also accused of giving the female employee preferential treatment. 

His investigation cleared the two staffers of the allegations and concluded that the male staffer "created the appearance of an inappropriate relationship."

Hoecker also allegedly misled investigators and "improperly confronted" a witness - his subordinate - regarding what she had told the committee.

The committee wrote that he "abused his authority in the exercise of his official duties and engaged in conduct that undermines the independence and integrity" that is expected of someone in his position. The panel recommended "appropriate disciplinary action," including "removal."

The committee also noted that Hoecker showed a "lack of candor." This finding is particularly serious, according to former government attorneys who spoke to Reuters, with one describing it as a "death knell" for law enforcement officials.

The Hill has reached out to the SEC for comment.

Outbrain