The Obama administration has made a nasty habit of punishing whistleblowers, but a new Inspector General investigation into the Department of Energy’s hiring practices shows just how sinister this practice has gotten.
Energy Department officials prohibited subordinates from speaking with congressional investigators about their probe into illicit hiring practices and related whistleblower retaliation allegations, according to the lead investigator.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, revealed in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that the deputy secretary of energy issued the gag order following a scathing inspector general report last week.
The report revealed that the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a division of the Department of Energy (DOE), had violated DOE hiring guidelines in ways that disadvantaged military veterans.
BPA employees who cooperated with the IG’s investigation, the report found, were fired, suspended, or otherwise sanctioned.
Issa revealed in a Wednesday, July 17, letter that Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman “verbally instructed Elliot Mainzer, the individual [Poneman] chose to serve as acting administrator of BPA, that no BPA employees were to talk with anyone regarding these allegations, including congressional investigators.”
Issa suggested that such a gag order could be illegal.
“Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime,” he noted. “Additionally, denying or interfering with employees’ rights to furnish information to Congress is against the law.”