FHFA watchdog faces own investigation – report

by Francis Monfort06 Aug 2018

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is under investigation following complaints alleging substantial misconduct, according to a report by Politico.

Letters and emails obtained by the publication revealed allegations that Laura Wertheimer bowed to pressure from Mel Watt, the FHFA director, and as a result, weakened the FHFA-OIG’s oversight.

Other allegations against Wertheimer include attempting to intimidate witnesses as well as disparaging employees.

The investigation was launched in March after the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency received employee whistleblower complaints and referral letters from two Senate committees. The council oversees inspector generals across government agencies.

In a letter to Wertheimer’s lawyer, the council informed the inspector general that it received complaints alleging she had engaged in substantial misconduct. The misconduct allegedly involved Wertheimer coercing auditors to accept buyouts or risk poor performance reviews.

Wertheimer was also charged with demeaning employees whom she thought were cooperating with investigators, seeking to identify whistleblowers on her staff, and gossiping about an employee’s confidential Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.

The council’s letter also said that the investigation was looking into claims that her actions were linked to Watt. It was alleged that Wertheimer’s decisions were influenced by threats from Watt to cut the FHFA-OIG’s staff and budget over critical reports.

Employees in the FHFA-OIG office vigorously defended Wertheimer and their oversight activity, Politico reported. Noting recent reports on cybersecurity and risk, the employees rejected the view that there was interference or influence from Watt.

Politico had earlier reported that Watt is under investigation for allegedly sexually harassing an employee.


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