By Richard Gaines
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown Wednesday faulted NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco for overseeing an agency without accountability.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Brown asked the Commerce chief to review and report on two new instances of unexplained actions — the brief solicitation for a "magician" to preside at a leadership conference, and a mass meeting of agency lawyers at a hotel in Philadelphia, a two hour ride from NOAA's Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.
"NOAA's continued disregard for being efficient and effective stewards of taxpayer dollars illustrates the rampant culture of waste at this agency, which has been fostered by Administrator Lubchenco's failure to punish obvious misconduct," Brown wrote. "NOAA's decision to seek an outside magician is just another troubling example.
"It has already been documented that Administrator Lubchenco previously retained an employee who made 80 percent of the agency's law enforcement files disappear in a 'shredding party' during an Inspector General investigation. This is the same well-paid NOAA employee who supported the purchase of a $300,000 luxury fishing boat, despite warnings from a NOAA procurement lawyer."
Brown was referring to a published solicitation for a speaker for a day at a leadership conference scheduled for June. The specifications for the speaker included mastery of magic as applied to inspire. The request for applications for the assignment was taken down after press inquiries.
The "shredding party" refers to actions authorized by the then director of law enforcement, Dale Jones, in November 2010, while the Commerce Department inspector general's teams were gathering evidence of abuse of the Asset Forfeiture Fund and making targets of fishing industry representatives. IG Todd Zinser reported the shredding event during sworn testimony Congress in March 2010.