The Corner

Coburn Wants Investigation of Labor Department

In the wake of my NRO report several weeks ago about shenanigans, waste, and allegedly hostile work environments at the Department of Labor, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has sent a letter to Labor’s inspector general, Scott S. Dahl, requesting an investigation of a series of allegations and reports contained in my story. The letter, dated February 14, asks not only for an investigation of “each of these issues included in this letter” but also of “any others that might arise during this investigation.”

Some excerpts from Coburn’s letter:

I write to you regarding a news article detailing alleged wasteful spending practices among other issues at the Department of Labor. It is disturbing to hear of these activities at a time when the country continues to face high unemployment and a labor participation rate that continues to fall. . . . One of the alleged wasteful spending practices included a Department book club. . . . Most disturbing, is the allegation that the Department hired an outside public relations firm to promote this book club. My office has been told that a firm, Concept Communications, allegedly received a potential no bid contract to the tune of $100,000 to assist in promoting the Department’s book club.

Further, it is disturbing to hear of the current work atmosphere at the Department. Individuals describe the environment as “a pretty hostile environment.” Individuals argue that this work place hostility comes to the detriment of career employees and in the end the public for which the Department serves.

The letter also specified other concerns, including alleged misuse of staff time and effort on glossy posters in every DOL elevator, instructions for employees to vote in an online religious poll, and “weird morale boosting exercises.”

As I had reported: “There’s a sense of entitlement among [Obama’s political] appointees at the Labor Department,” says one source. “They feel that the ethics rules and the rules about effective management and the rules about effectively spending taxpayers’ money do not apply to them.” I and the Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley also have reported, here and elsewhere, that the American Federation of Government Employees has been at odds with the Department on several fronts, again bolstering the idea that something is amiss with the workplace environment.

Senator Coburn is an honorable bulldog on these sorts of abuses. This bears watching.

Quin Hillyer — In addition to National Review, Quin Hillyer has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, The Guardian (UK), and Investor’s Business Daily.

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