LOS ANGELES—Porn was certainly on the mind today of California Republican Darrell Issa, the divisive chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who at one point during today's hearing demanded to know of witnesses from the Environmental Protection Agency why one of their porn-loving colleagues still has a job.
“This individual spent four consecutive hours on a site called ‘sadism is beautiful,’” Issa exclaimed, claiming, “You are running an organization from which no one can get fired.”
Today's hearing, titled Is EPA Leadership Obstructing It’s Own Inspector General?, was called to address an apparent "turf war" within the EPA between the agency's inspector general's office and a little-known entity called the Office of Homeland Security that was formed in 2003 "by then Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to coordinate EPA activities such as hazardous materials cleanup and water contamination that can stem from terrorist attacks," the AP reported today.
Over the past few years, the committee was told today, friction between the two offices has grown steadily, building to what one of the witnesses said was a current impasse. "In 2012," added the AP, "the office signed an agreement with the FBI to be the point of contact for all investigations with a national security connection. But Patrick Sullivan, an assistant EPA inspector general for investigations, told lawmakers that national security was an excuse to keep his office in the dark on misconduct allegations."
Another official from the EPA, Allan Williams, a deputy assistant inspector general for investigations, appeared today "to inform the committee about findings from several time-and-attendance investigations." One of the investigations he mentioned involved the above-mentioned employee.
"The OIG has several ongoing investigations involving EPA employees and serious misconduct that is allegedly occurring," Williams told the committee, reading from his prepared statement. "One such investigation involves a career EPA employee who allegedly stored pornographic materials on an EPA network server shared by colleagues. When an OIG special agent arrived at this employee’s workspace to conduct an interview, the special agent witnessed the employee actively viewing pornography on his government-issued computer. Subsequently, the employee confessed to spending, on average, between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work.
"The OIG’s investigation determined that the employee downloaded and viewed more than 7,000 pornographic files during duty hours," he added. "This investigation has been referred to and accepted by the DOJ for prosecution."
The facts of the porn investigation obviously irked Issa, who pressed the four witnesses, all of whom work for the EPA, to address the elephant in the room.
“How much pornography would it take for an EPA employee to lose his job," asked the chairman, adding, “Somebody viewing pornographic sites should be terminated and not be given bonuses."
Regarding the larger issue before the committee—the inter-agency turf war—one of the witnesses, Bob Perciasepe, deputy administrator of the EPA, promised reform, and "told the House Oversight and Government Reform committee that he will instruct EPA's little-known Office of Homeland Security to seek permission to share information with the inspector general's office," the AP reported.
However, one fact reported by Bloomberg adds an element of mystery to today's proceedings, as well as a bit of creepiness on the part of the Issa. As reported by the business news network, "Panel chairman Darrell Issa of California said he would provide Perciasepe with a list of some of the pornographic websites that the employee visited. He said the list wouldn’t be made public."
But why would Issa have access to those sites and not also Perciasepe, who, as a top official with the agency, would presumably have access to the agency's investigation mentioned by Williams during his testimony.
And really, what difference does it make what porn sites the employee was visiting, as long as they were legal? By saying he would give the names of the sites to Perciasepe, Issa was presumably saying that the official should forward that information to the DOJ, but for what purpose is unclear.
The other thing we don't quite get is Issa's reference to a site presumably called "sadism is beautiful." We could find it, and while GoDaddy says sadismisbeautiful.com has been registered by someone, the domain itself is parked. We tried other top-level domains but came up empty handed. Maybe it was Sadism is Awesome or something like that, but only Issa knows for sure. He really should gets his porn domains straight before sending them off to the DOJ, though.
Image: Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)