Trump’s FEMA chief under investigation over use of official cars

Source: Politico | September 13, 2018 | Daniel Lippman and Eliana Johnson

The lead disaster official for Hurricane Florence recently clashed with his boss, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, over travel home to North Carolina.

FEMA administrator Brock Long is the target of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes to North Carolina from Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter, including current and former administration officials.

The actions by Long, the U.S. government’s lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel, an issue that has tripped up a number of current and former top Trump administration officials.

Long’s travel habits triggered a clash between him and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in recent weeks, clouding their relationship just as senior aides close to President Donald Trump prepared for hurricane season – a task that’s attracted extra scrutiny in the wake of the disaster that befell Puerto Rico in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria.

The IG is investigating whether Long misused government resources and personnel on trips back home to Hickory, N.C., on the weekends, said two of the officials. The IG’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles – a black Suburban – was involved in an accident, according to one of the officials.

Long’s routine absences from the office due to frequent six-hour drives between North Carolina and Washington also drew Nielsen’s attention, this person said. Nielsen had raised the issue of Long’s in-office schedule with him in recent months, this person added.

At a meeting in late August, Nielsen confronted Long about his travel, though people familiar with the meeting gave conflicting accounts about whether she took the step of asking him to step down over the issue.

One of the officials said Nielsen asked Long to consider resigning, though he declined to do so and remains in his role. The program to support the FEMA administrator “was never intended for this purpose,” said the official.

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