The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long, is subject to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general investigation regarding his use of government vehicles, Politico reports.
Long lives in Hickory, North Carolina, and has reportedly been using government vehicles to commute from his home to Washington, D.C. His use of the cars for that commute is being investigated for misuse of government funds.
Using the cars has led to conflict between Long and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who doesn’t approve of his use of taxpayer money to commute to and from Washington. That has created issues between DHS and FEMA ahead of what is bound to be a busy week for the two organizations with Hurricane Florence looming.
Attention was drawn to the issue when one of the cars used by Long was in an accident during one of his trips back to Hickory.
Another issue being looked at in the examination is Long’s absenteeism, with six-hour drives between Hickory and Washington taking Long out of the office for several days while he has been in the position, something Nielsen confronted him over.
Another great example of how a fed govt that discourages teleworking has plenty of appointees who do it-and charge taxpayers. @dlippman & @elianayjohnson have the scoop on FEMA's Brock Long, in @playbookplus https://t.co/A1W5fkIqX8
— Juliet Eilperin (@eilperin) September 13, 2018
Long has said he will cooperate with the investigation and take it as an opportunity to make improvements to remain in line with regulations.
“I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly. Doing something unethical is not part of my DNA, and it is not part of my track record in my whole entire career. We will work with the OIG.”
Since his first days in the job, Long has used a staff driver to take him back to North Carolina on weekends. Officials report that his aides went with Long to his weekend trips to Hickory and stayed at a hotel paid for by taxpayers. His tagging along of personnel is being investigated as well.
While DHS employees must typically be authorized to use government vehicles for personal use, like what Long has done, there are special exceptions for the FEMA administrator. The Washington Post says that Long’s vehicles have special communication equipment, something an individual in Long’s position is entitled to have so that he can keep up communication in the event of a natural disaster.
Such use of government vehicles has been an issue for other Trump appointees in the past. Former EPA head Scott Pruitt, for example, was forced to resign over his travel habits.
There have been no public calls for Long to resign, but should the investigation find impropriety in his use of government vehicles, those calls will no doubt come.