Federal law provides that employees of the Federal government may not be paid to obstruct Congress and if caught doing so they must repay their salaries for the time in which the obstruction continued.
Pub. L. No. 112-74, § 713, states:
“No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be available for the payment of the salary of any officer or employee of the Federal Government, who . . . prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent, any other officer or employee of the Federal Government from having any direct oral or written communication or contact with any Member, committee, or subcommittee of the Congress in connection with any matter pertaining to the employment of such other officer or employee or pertaining to the department or agency of such other officer or employee in any way, irrespective of whether such communication or contact is at the initiative of such other officer or employee or in response to the request or inquiry of such Member, committee, or subcommittee.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined Tuesday that two Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) political appointees refused to let an employee speak with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about a major scandal. Therefore, the two employees must repay HUD for salary paid to them for at least 6 months.
The GAO said that unless HUD’s associate general counsel and a deputy assistant secretary personally return their salaries, the department would be knowingly retaining “improper payments” on its books in violation of the law.
From the Daily Caller:
The oversight panel, in 2012, was uncovering the fact that then-Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez made a secret deal to make a potentially damaging lawsuit go away. He reportedly told the litigant that in exchange for dropping the suit, the government would look the other way on fraud the litigant was doing in an unrelated matter, which was being investigated by HUD.
In October 2012, the committee, then led by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa requested to interview the two officials plus the department’s general counsel and a regional director of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
But HUD sent only the top political appointees to speak, and they “were unable to answer several basic factual questions about the timeline of events and actions of HUD officials,” because they were substantially higher in management than the specialized employees actually involved.
HUD still refused to allow Congress to speak to the regional director six months later, despite repeated requests, so the committee issued a subpoena.
The regional director then said he had wanted to talk with Congress, but HUD’s legal office told him to stop responding to the committee.
HUD’s general counsel and deputy assistant secretary are the two political appointees that should return their salaries, according to the GAO.
This sounds a lot like what the IRS and Lois Lerner did. The arrogance and attitude they’re above the law is certainly the same.
Meanwhile, the Daily Caller finds yet more corruption at HUD: HUD Employee Given Two Section 8 Housing Units Despite Long Waiting List