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Institutionalizing a Culture of Fear and Corruption

Friday April 25th, 2014   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:16am PDT   •  

9914738_SOne of the more disturbing trends that we’ve seen develop with the federal government’s bureaucrats in recent years is the growing extent to which they are placing their interests ahead of those of the American people. What makes what we’re seeing develop so disturbing is that we’re not just seeing the work of a culture of corruption, but rather the institutionalization of corruption.

That point is perhaps nowhere more clear than in a new staff report issued by the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, which reveals some of the extent to which Charles Edwards, one of the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector Generals, abused his authority as “watchdog” for the American people to instead watch out more for the interests of senior officials at DHS.

The official tasked with keeping watch over the Department of Homeland Security was instead watching out for senior officials he considered his “friends,” according to a Senate probe.

A subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a scathing report on Thursday that effectively confirmed many of the ethical allegations that have trailed Charles Edwards ever since he resigned his post in December as acting DHS inspector general. The report determined that he “jeopardized the independence” of his office by socializing with senior DHS officials and had reports “altered or delayed” to accommodate the department he was supposed to oversee….

The report also included, though did not confirm, allegations that Edwards’ office sat on information about the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal that could “influence an election.”

Judson Berger of Fox News describes the report:

The report paints the picture of an office torn apart by personal vendettas and political games. It included allegations that Edwards’ office retaliated against workers who spoke out and, in the words of one unnamed official, that Edwards himself cultivated a “toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive” work environment. One official told Senate investigators that the work atmosphere was one of “complete terror.”

The environment established by Edwards in his supposed-to-be-independent-and-impartial position as an Inspector General is key to understanding how corruption can become institutionalized within a government agency. Establishing a culture of fear, where the only thing that honest people can have confidence in is the knowledge that they will face severe retaliation by corrupt officials if they report any wrongdoing they observe, gives corrupt officials the freedom to pursue their own personal agendas without consequence.

And since corrupt officials can often use their influence within an organization to place their cronies in the positions that oversee their activities, they can pretty much write themselves a blank check if they’re looking to get away with misconduct.

Just see what has become of the IRS and the Department of Justice when these government agencies have put the interests of their friends ahead of the American people. And if you want to know what the human cost is for that kind of institutionalized corruption, just consider the stories now breaking about the conduct of senior Veterans Administration officials.

These are things that can only happen when the federal government’s bureaucrats have carte blanche to put their corrupt interests ahead of those of the American people.

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April 2014