Treasury Department officials have been cited for soliciting prostitutes, breaking conflict-of-interest rules and accepting gifts from corporate executives, according to the findings of official government investigations.
The revelations of unethical behavior at Treasury are detailed in little-noticed documents posted this month on governmentattic.org, which publishes agency responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While it is not uncommon for departments within the executive branch to have personnel issues, it is unusual for these types of documents to become public. They provide a rare glimpse of internal probes within the Treasury Department, exposing different episodes of misconduct.
Investigators at the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), which responds to tips and official referrals from within the department, found that employees had engaged in unethical, and perhaps criminal, conduct.
The emergence of the OIG probe findings come in the wake of embarrassing scandals for the Obama administration at the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Secret Service. Even though the wrongdoing at Treasury is not as far-reaching or as embarrassing as those controversies, it could put the administration on the defensive with less than four months to go before the election.
n 2010, an OTS employee “misused” government resources to solicit prostitutes on three separate occasions via Craigslist. While working at the OTS, investigators said, the government staffer “viewed websites offering erotic services on a weekly basis as well as communicating with and arranging meetings with women offering erotic services.”
The OIG concluded that the OTS worker had violated government rules on “notoriously disgraceful conduct.” The case was referred for criminal prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which opted not to prosecute “absent aggravating circumstances such as underage prostitutes or human trafficking.” The employee, who was not a political appointee, subsequently retired from the government, according to the documents.
In another finding, the OIG cited an OCC staffer for accepting golf fees and meals from bank executives. The staffer, who had received ethics training, said he believed playing golf with industry officials under the purview of OCC was “a condoned activity.”
The golf outings took place on multiple occasions during workweeks when OCC was conducting bank examinations. Many of the greens fees and meals at the golf course were paid for by corporate executives.