An investigation by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) cites certain department officials for "soliciting prostitutes, breaking conflict-of-interest rules" and accepting "gifts" from business executives, The Hill's Bob Cusack reports.
"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," Cusack adds.
The documents reveal that not only were certain department officials engaged in clearly unethical behavior, but that some of it may have been illegal.
"In 2010, an OTS [the now-defunct Office of Thrift Supervision] employee 'misused' government resources to solicit prostitutes on three separate occasions via Craigslist,” The Hill reports.
“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 report adds.
“Misuse” seems like an awful generous word, doesn't it?
"The OIG concluded that the OTS worker had violated government rules on 'notoriously disgraceful conduct,'" writes Cusack.
"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,’" he adds.
That employee has since resigned from their job.
Then there's this:
In another finding, the OIG cited an OCC [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.”
And last but not least:
OIG found 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 deemed to have a financial conflict of interest in 2010 when the bank examiner disclosed he had an overdraft protection line of credit loan from a financial institution that was regulated by the OTS.
Luckily for the targets of the OIG investigation, Treasury official’s names were redacted from the FOIA papers. It's not clear who, exactly, is involved in the charges of misconduct.
The Treasury Department claims these were just isolated events and not indicative of the department's culture.
"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," a Treasury spokesman told The Hill.
"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," the spokesman added.
Aside from the employee who used Craigslist to pick up hookers, it's unclear whether anyone else has resigned from their posts.