Move along, nothing to see here. If you expect any criminal charges you’ll be waiting a really long time.
As of early March, federal authorities were investigating 66 cases of alleged false statements, bid rigging, fraud and embezzlement, according to a report by Calvin L. Scovel III, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general. Justice Department lawyers are scouring 47 of those cases for potential prosecution, according to Scovel.
Twenty-five of those cases involve alleged fraud by minority-owned or operated enterprises that received preferential treatment in the awarding of the contracts, while 22 involve allegations of false claims. Investigators are also looking into nine cases of alleged violations of the prevailing wage law, three involving corruption and one case involving embezzlement, according to a report Scovel presented to the House transportation appropriations subcommittee on March 29. A spokesman for Scovel’s office declined to provide further details of the ongoing investigation, but stressed, “We take very seriously any allegations of waste, fraud, abuse or violations of the law.”
An aide to the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, described the probe as an “ongoing investigation” and said subcommittee members have not yet been briefed on the details. “Hopefully the report will be coming shortly from the inspector general,” the aide told The Fiscal Times.
The investigations into a signature Obama administration economic program could add to President Obama’s political headaches as he campaigns for reelection this fall. Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee already are planning hearings later this month into a General Services Administration scandal that brought down the agency’s administrator, Martha N. Johnson, and two of her senior deputies earlier this week. The resignations were prompted by a scathing GSA inspector general’s report issued Monday that detailed GSA’s misuse of $823,000 of funds to finance an extravagant employee training conference in Las Vegas in October 2010.
The massive economic stimulus program was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009, in the depths of the worst U.S. recession in modern times. The president and his Democratic allies say the program was essential to prevent the economy from tipping into a Depression, and advocates claim the stimulus package “created or saved” an estimated 2 million jobs. Many Republican leaders and conservative analysts dispute the administration’s claims about the overall benefits and say it has had little residual benefit.
Is it any wonder why Obama comes up with a daily distraction to take the spotlight of his disastrous record?