ICYMI: Vitter Seeks More Information on Brenner, Beale Relations at EPA
October 17, 2013
Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, continued the Committee's investigation into fraud and theft at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Committee is looking into the close ties of a former senior EPA official who admitted to stealing nearly $900,000 of taxpayer funds. Click here to read more.
(BNA) -- Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) requested additional information Oct. 16 about the relationship between a former top air official at the Environmental Protection Agency and another former official who pleaded guilty to defrauding the agency of nearly $900,000.
In a letter to the lawyer of Robert Brenner, former deputy assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, Vitter asked for further information about how John Beale was recommended for promotion by Brenner, how the two men shared a vacation property in Massachusetts and whether Brenner knew of rumors of Beale's work with the Central Intelligence Agency, among other requests.
Vitter, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, asked 19 follow-up questions of Brenner after receiving what he described as an "incomplete" response from Brenner's lawyer Oct. 4.
Beale pleaded guilty in late September to defrauding the agency of $886,186 in salary, travel reimbursement, retention incentive bonuses and a parking space he claimed was needed due to injuries received during the Vietnam War. Beale agreed to pay a $507,207 forfeiture and will be sentenced Dec. 18 (198 DEN A-15, 10/11/13).
Brenner has acknowledged recommending that the agency hire Beale, serving as Beale's supervisor between 1988 and part of 2001 and recommending Beale for "retention incentives bonuses" on two occasions that did not expire when they should have after three years.
Brenner said he was not aware Beale had lied about work conducted for the CIA until learning of the guilty plea.
Own Ethics Issue
Vitter also continued inquiries into ethics issues related to Brenner's tenure at the EPA. During an Oct. 1 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, Brenner admitted he accepted an $8,000 discount on a Mercedes Benz automobile that was "brokered" by a lobbyist with ties to the automobile industry (191 DEN A-2, 10/2/13).
An investigator with the agency's Office of Inspector General told the committee he believed there was "merit to move forward" with charges against Brenner but said the Justice Department ultimately declined to pursue charges, and Brenner retired before investigators could interview him.
Vitter asked specifically for more information about Brenner's relationship with Patrick Raher, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells LLP who brokered the discount. Raher first met Brenner through work on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.
Vitter further asked Brenner to state whether Beale represented that he had injured his back or contracted malaria while serving in Vietnam-both of which were later determined to be untrue.