DHS Inspector General Nominee Gets Warm Welcome in Senate

If approved, John Roth will be the first Senate-confirmed nominee to fill the position in almost three years.

Carper: Aims at "patchwork" regs.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
See more stories about...
Jordain Carney
Jan. 8, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

Sen­at­ors from both sides of the aisle lauded Pres­id­ent Obama’s nom­in­ee to be the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur­ity’s in­spect­or gen­er­al — a post that has been mired by con­tro­versy in re­cent years.

John Roth, who over­sees the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s of­fice of crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tions, test­i­fied be­fore the Home­land Se­cur­ity and Gov­ern­ment­al Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day, in what was largely a friendly hear­ing.

“I’ve said to some of our staff here”¦ if you are as good as an IG as you are as a wit­ness, we could be in pretty good hands,” said Chair­man Tom Carp­er, D-Md., to­ward the end of the hear­ing.

If con­firmed — a move sen­at­ors in both parties pre­dicted — Roth would be the first Sen­ate-con­firmed in­spect­or gen­er­al the de­part­ment has had in al­most three years. Sen­at­ors gave Roth a laun­dry list of is­sues they would like him to fo­cus on in­clud­ing bor­der se­cur­ity, in­form­a­tion tech­no­logy, and case back­log.

Charles Ed­wards, the pre­vi­ous act­ing in­spect­or gen­er­al, stepped down in Decem­ber. Ed­wards was un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion by aud­it­ors, and faced al­leg­a­tions of ab­use of power, with­hold­ing doc­u­ments, mis­spend­ing of funds, nepot­ism, and mak­ing his staff do his home­work for his Ph.D.

But Ed­wards hasn’t been the only con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure with­in the de­part­ment. If con­firmed, Roth will over­see an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to Ale­jandro May­or­k­as, the deputy sec­ret­ary at DHS. May­or­k­as is be­ing in­vest­ig­ated in con­nec­tion to the U.S. Cit­izen­ship and Im­mig­ra­tion Ser­vice’s EB-5 pro­gram. EB-5 visas are giv­en to in­vestors who in­vest at min­im­um between $500,000 and $1 mil­lion in a busi­ness.

Con­gres­sion­al staffers told the As­so­ci­ated Press last year that in­vest­ig­at­ors are ex­amin­ing what, if any, role May­or­k­as had in help­ing former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton’s broth­er, An­thony Rod­ham, get an in­vestor visa for a Chinese ex­ec­ut­ive, des­pite pre­vi­ous re­jec­tions.

Sen­at­ors touched on that in­vest­ig­a­tion dur­ing their com­ments to Roth.

“In the IG’s com­mu­nic­a­tions with Con­gress in what cir­cum­stances would it be ap­pro­pri­ate to share in­form­a­tions with mem­bers or staff of one party, but not the oth­er,” Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill, D-Mo., asked, ref­er­en­cing the May­or­k­as in­vest­ig­a­tion. In that case, whis­tleblowers con­tac­ted the com­mit­tee’s minor­ity staff, but not the ma­jor­ity staff.

“The minute you try to play ball with one side or the oth­er”¦ That means an im­me­di­ate loss of cred­ib­il­ity,” Mc­Caskill ad­ded.

The De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur­ity has been plagued by low mor­ale and lead­er­ship va­can­cies, and mul­tiple sen­at­ors clas­si­fied the de­part­ment as something of a work in pro­gress. Roth said he was “un­der no il­lu­sions” about the myri­ad of chal­lenges he’ll face if con­firmed.

DHS ranked last in over­all sat­is­fac­tion amongst 19 large fed­er­al agen­cies, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased late last year.

What We're Following See More »
WORDS AND PICTURES
White House Looks Back on bin Laden Mission
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
NO BATTLE OVER SEATTLE
SCOTUS Won’t Hear Appeal of Minimum-Wage Law
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a sweeping constitutional challenge to Seattle’s minimum wage law, in what could have been a test case for future legal attacks on similar measures across the country. In a one-line order, the justices declined to hear a case by the International Franchise Association and a group of Seattle franchisees, which had said in court papers that the city’s gradual wage increase to $15 discriminates against them in a way that violates the Constitution’s commerce clause."

Source:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IN JUNE
DC to Release Draft Constitution as Part of Statehood Push
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The New Columbia Statehood Commission—composed of five District leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and D.C.'s congressional delegation—voted today to publicly release a draft of a new constitution for an eventual state next Friday, at the Lincoln Cottage." It's the first step in a statehood push this year that will include a constitutional convention in June and a referendum in November.

Source:
ALZHEIMER’S OUTCRY
Will Ferrell Bails on Reagan Movie
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Amid outcry by President Reagan's children, actor Will Ferrell has pulled out of a movie that makes light of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease. A spokesperson for Ferrell said, “The ‘Reagan’ script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project."

Source:
×