According to a detailed but seemingly unnoticed document posted this month on governmentattic.org, 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 documents were posted in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Investigators at the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), found that employees had engaged in unethical, and perhaps criminal, conduct. The findings come on the heels of embarrassing scandals for the Obama administration at the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Secret Service.
In 2010, an employee of the now defunct Office of Thrift Supervision,“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.”
According to the documents 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.
In another finding, the OIG cited an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 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.
The OIG stated the OCC official “violated several regulations covering ethics and the conduct of employees in the performance of their official duties” but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia declined to pursue criminal charges.
There were numerous other financial conflicts of interest with the OCC relating to contract bids and the acceptance of improper gifts such as flowers, meals and at least one limousine ride. A separate Treasury official was found to have a financial conflict of interest in 2010 when it was disclosed that he had an overdraft protection line of credit loan from a financial institution that was regulated by the OTS.
The documents from OIG also show that a few allegations of unethical conduct were found to be without merit.
Treasury Department officials say the violations are isolated incidents.
“Treasury has a strong ethics policy that we expect all of our employees to follow, and the overwhelming majority of them do. As with any large organization, issues of misconduct occasionally arise. When that happens at Treasury, we act promptly and decisively to address them. The OIG moved aggressively to investigate the isolated instances of misconduct referenced in these documents, most of which were brought to the OIG’s attention by bureau management,” a Treasury spokesman told The Hill.
The spokesman added that “all six of these isolated cases of misconduct were done by career federal employees.”
Unlike most government entities, the OCC does not receive appropriations from Congress. Its operations are primarily funded from assessments levied on national banks and federal saving associations.