The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday accused the State Department's watchdog of violating its mission by keeping Congress in the dark about accusations of political cover-ups at the department.
In a letter to the department's Office of Inspector General (OIG), Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) blasts the agency over a February report that was scrubbed of specific references to misconduct allegations that included eight cases of State Department officials sleeping with prostitutes and other misconduct.
“The final version of the report submitted to Congress in February 2013 was bereft of any reference to these specific cases,” Royce wrote to Harold Geisel, the deputy inspector general.
“Instead the OIG concluded, without the requisite context, that 'The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Investigations Division (SID), which investigates allegations of criminal and administrative misconduct, lacks a firewall to preclude the DS and Department of State (Department) hierarchies from exercising undue influence in particular cases.'
According to reports, some or all of these omissions came at the behest of senior State Department officials.”
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Royce's letter follows revelations that the February OIG report to Congress about the risk of political manipulation at the department was watered down.
A draft report that mentioned the prostitution claims and other allegations was never shared with Congress.
Royce said his committee staff asked for more details when the February report first came out but was denied.
“On March 14, 2013, representatives from your Office briefed Committee staff on a final version of the report,” Royce wrote.
“At no time during this meeting did OIG personnel explain the basis of this finding or provide details concerning 'undue influence' on DSS investigations.
“When asked, officials declined to comment on specific examples. While the Department and OIG deny any wrongdoing, the lack of detail appears to be inconsistent with the OIG’s mission to keep the Congress 'fully and currently informed.'”
The letter demands that the OIG turn over its draft report and an earlier memo as well as “all documents and communications referring or relating” to the February report by June 27.
Royce also asked for a briefing from the OIG and for a clarification, in writing, detailing “whether, and on what basis, OIG agreed to omit information from this final report pursuant to any State Department official's request.”
A spokesman for the OIG told The Hill it's "standard practice" not to divulge information about ongoing investigations to Congress or the public.
"Because allegations are unsubstantiated and often based on rumor and hearsay," said OIG spokesman Douglas Welty, "it is our standard practice to keep all information close-hold until the facts are known."
This story was last updated at 4:09 p.m.
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