Tuesday, February 19, 2019
By Heidi Przybyla, NBC News
WASHINGTON — House and Senate Democrats say they have obtained evidence that a senior official at the Department of Education tried to oust the department’s independent watchdog after she pushed back on an attempt to interfere in an active investigation of Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Lawmakers from four House and Senate committees who oversee the department sent a letter to DeVos on Tuesday, suggesting that the effort to replace the department’s acting inspector general, Sandra Bruce, had been related to her duties in overseeing the probe of DeVos’ decision to reinstate ACICS, an accreditor that had been stripped of its certification by the Obama administration.
“We have now received correspondence between the Department and the (Office of Inspector General) that reveals troubling efforts by the Department to influence the ACICS investigation,” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., wrote to DeVos.
Scott was joined by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who serves on the House Appropriations Committee; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee; and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee handling education.
Earlier this month, after the effort to demote Bruce became public, the department backtracked on its decision to replace Bruce with a handpicked official to serve as the agency’s acting watchdog, after criticism that the designation posed a serious conflict of interest.
Inspectors general provide independent oversight at federal departments and agencies, with the intent that they are free from the influence of political appointees in order to act on behalf of taxpayers.
Learn more about this here…