Politics & Policy

Report: DEA Employees Accused of Sexual Misconduct Were Given Bonuses

(File photo: Eric Kayne/Getty)

Most companies would fire employees caught patronizing prostitutes on the job; the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) gives them a bonus.

A new report by the Department of Justice inspector general (IG) found that in at least ten instances, DEA employees involved in egregious sexual misconduct kept their jobs and received performance bonuses in violation of agency policy.

One DEA agent, a frequent john, allegedly brought prostitutes to government-leased buildings, even assaulting one woman after they argued over her pay. He received a two-week suspension, promptly got a $1,500 bonus for his work, and is currently employed at DEA offices in the U.S.

At least five other DEA agents received short-term suspensions and thousands in performance awards after being accused of attending sex parties at government-leased quarters, according to the report.

Additionally, a DEA regional director raked in more than $68,000 in bonuses in the past five years, despite failing to report similar escapades with prostitutes on the part of his subordinates. He didn’t even receive formal discipline, and he remains at his overseas post to this day.

And a DEA assistant regional director kept his foreign post, received a $5,000 bonus, and was punished with a simple letter of reprimand after he was alleged to have sexually harassed his assistant and urged her to watch pornography.

#share#The inspector general’s report, conducted at the behest of the House Oversight Committee, comes just months after news that DEA agents partook in sex parties funded by Colombian drug cartels, some of them hosted at facilities leased by the U.S. government.

In the wake of that scandal, the head of the DEA told the Oversight Committee that she had no authority to fire the agents involved; they instead received no more than two weeks’ suspension.

Over the past five years, the DEA has canned less than 0.01 percent of its employees for disciplinary action or poor performance.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise: Over the past five years, the DEA has canned less than 0.01 percent of its employees for disciplinary action or poor performance. The agency, which has more than 9,000 employees, has fired only 71 workers since 2010.

National Review wondered what could get a DEA agent fired, if cartel-funded sex parties with prostitutes didn’t do the trick. But our Freedom of Information Act request, submitted more than five months ago, has yielded only a single page, which is largely redacted.

The inspector general apparently ran into similar problems obtaining DEA internal documents. The agency’s policy states that employees disciplined for significant misconduct shouldn’t receive cash bonuses or other performance awards for at least three years, and employees under investigation shouldn’t receive rewards until their names are cleared. All deliberations that concern the awarding of bonuses are supposed to be thoroughly documented, especially for a suspect employee.

But the DEA failed to follow its own policy, and “in many instances, we could not determine why exceptions were made . . . because the DEA was unable to provide the OIG with complete documentation,” according to the IG’s office.

Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz was apoplectic upon receiving the report.

“It is astounding that employees who should have been prosecuted, fired, or at a minimum, severely disciplined for their misconduct, were instead given undeserved promotions and bonuses,” he said in a statement. “It is a disgrace that taxpayer dollars are being wasted on those who violate our trust and abuse their positions.”

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and the Tony Blankley Fellow at the Steamboat Institute.

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