U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has asked for all documents related to the "legal review" that then-Commerce Secretary Gary Locke relied upon when he "chose not to discipline" any member of the NOAA law enforcement system whose "poor conduct" has been documented by a special judicial master.
Brown said that, in refusing to provide the document sought by the committee, NOAA is incorrectly applying the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to Congress.
Commissioned by Locke, Special Master Charles B. Swartwoood III's findings were the basis of apologies by Locke and more than $600,000 in reparations in May to 11 fishing businesses laid low by abusive law enforcement.
But the failure of Dale J. Jones Jr., the former director of law enforcement or any of his agents or litigators to be called out to account for the excesses that debilitated fishermen and scandalized the agency has nettled members of Congress.
At the Faneuil Hall hearing, Brown asked National Marine Fisheries Service Administrator Eric Schwaab, "What does it take to get fired at NOAA?"
"I must now consider the logical conclusion that your agency feels itself to be above congressional oversight," Brown wrote. "The behavior is disrespectful to the American people, Congress and the Massachusetts fishermen who have suffered because of NOAA's mismanagement of the fisheries."