Good thing for President Obama that there are no real scandals plaguing his administration — and that apparently includes the IRS targeting of conservative groups, which he called “outrageous” when he first heard about it May, telling reporters in the White House briefing room “I have got no patience” for it.
The complete absence of scandals will enable him to give his full attention to a brand-new act of brazen abuse within his cabinet. Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon wrote yesterday that higher-ups in the Department of Energy warned subordinates not to speak with congressional investigators about their probe into illicit hiring practices. DOE threatened retaliation against whistleblowers and actually punished employees who came forward.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, revealed in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that the deputy secretary of energy issued the gag order following a scathing inspector general report last week.
The report revealed that the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a division of the Department of Energy (DOE), had violated DOE hiring guidelines in ways that disadvantaged military veterans.
BPA employees who cooperated with the IG’s investigation, the report found, were fired, suspended, or otherwise sanctioned.
Issa confirmed in a letter dated July 17 that Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman “verbally instructed Elliot Mainzer, the individual [Poneman] chose to serve as acting administrator of BPA, that no BPA employees were to talk with anyone regarding these allegations, including congressional investigators.”
Issa intimated that such a gag order could be illegal:
Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime. Additionally, denying or interfering with employees’ rights to furnish information to Congress is against the law.
One could argue on behalf of the most transparent administration in history that Congress has come after the Obama White House non-stop since its coverup of the Benghazi non-scandal. Then again, the administration has provided Congress with an endless supply of misdeeds to investigate.
This most recent act of malfeasance came to light after a senior BPA official approached Oversight Committee spokesman Ali Ahmad and told of Poneman’s gag order. Ahmad in turn told the Oregonian:
BPA employees have the right to talk with Congress and to provide Congress information free from interference by the Department of Energy. These employees also have a right to be free from fear of retaliation for sharing information with Congress.
The White House has yet to issue a statement.
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