The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long, made unauthorized uses of both government vehicles and staff for personal reasons over 40 times, even though it was clearly indicated to him he was not allowed to do so.
An internal investigation found that in the period between December and April, Long was driven to work from home and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to his home in North Carolina for weekend visits with family multiple times.
Federal investigators, who surveilled Long, also found that staff drove him during a Hawaii vacation. The Hill writes that four members of Long’s staff made a total of 25 non-business-related trips to North Carolina, where they stayed at hotels and were paid overtime with taxpayers’ money.
All in all, the 40 trips cost taxpayers $94,000 in staff salary, $55,000 in travel expenses and $2,000 in vehicle maintenance, adding up to $151,000 in unauthorized travel.
The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post reported that the FEMA chief’s improper personal trips also included a visit to a pineapple plantation and a volcano which he made with his family while vacationing on Hawaii.
Long has been ordered to pay back the money “as appropriate,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.
According to officials, he will nonetheless remain head of the agency, but will “accept full responsibility for any mistakes that were made.”
Following reports of his unauthorized personal trips, Long drew criticism from lawmakers, among which included Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Cummings said that the FEMA administrator “is supposed to be focused on preparing for disasters like the devastating hurricanes that killed thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — not using government vehicles to shuttle his family around Hawaii at taxpayer expense.”