Homeland Security watchdog is transferred
WASHINGTON -- The official in charge of exposing wrongdoing inside the troubled Homeland Security Department has been transferred amid allegations that he abused his position, officials said Tuesday.
Charles K. Edwards was scheduled to appear before a Senate panel on Thursday to answer questions about allegations that he improperly employed his wife, misused travel funds and covered up details about a Secret Service prostitution scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The Senate hearing was canceled after he left his post.
Edwards, a career civil servant, was the department’s deputy inspector general. But he had run the office since February 2011 because the White House had not nominated a new inspector general.
At his request, Edwards was reassigned to the department’s science and technology directorate, the research and development arm, officials said.
Senate investigators have been looking into allegations that Edwards held back details from reports about U.S. Secret Service agents who hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, while planning a presidential visit to the country in 2012.
Subordinates also said that Edwards improperly hired his wife as an auditor in his office, and gave bonuses to employees who helped him write a university dissertation for a doctoral course in information systems.
Before he stepped down, Edwards was overseeing an internal investigation of Alejandro Mayorkas, Obama’s pick to be the No. 2 official at Homeland Security.
Critics have said Mayorkas, the current head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, fast-tracked visas for foreign investors on behalf of businesses with political connections. Mayorkas has denied wrongdoing and the Senate is expected to approve his promotion later this week.
In November, President Obama nominated John Roth, the top criminal investigator at the Food and Drug Administration, to become the permanent inspector general at Homeland Security. Roth’s nomination may be considered by the Senate early next year.
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