Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), spent $151,000 of taxpayer money to fund personal travel according to a report delivered to Congress Friday.
Long’s use of government-owned and government-rented vehicles, and agency staff to drive the vehicles was the bulk of the bill, coming in at $94,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. Additional costs included $55,000 in travel expenditures and $2,000 in maintenance.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general (IG) began looking into Long’s travel when one of the government vehicles was involved in a crash.
The IG discovered that Long regularly used government-owned vehicles driven by government staff to commute between Washington D.C., and his home in Hickory, North Carolina; a six-hour commute.
While use of government vehicles is permitted by FEMA officials to allow accessibility in a time of crisis, Long was not permitted to use the vehicles for his commute, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The investigation also found that Long used government-rented vehicles driven by agency staff for personal use while visiting Hawaii in March 2017. Long did tend to FEMA business while on the trip, visiting the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations Center, meeting with Gov. David Ige and attending a meeting with officials with the U.S. Pacific Command. His trip then continued for several days beyond his government commitments.
The Wall Street Journal discovered that the Hawaii trip coincided with his children’s spring break, and the IG investigation found that while Long and his family stayed in Hawaii on vacation, they used a government-rented vehicle driven by FEMA aide Keith LaFourcade for personal travel.
LaFoucade was suspended as a result of the investigation, when the IG discovered that he destroyed evidence of the trip, hindering the IG investigation. John Veatch, a senior FEMA official who oversaw FEMA’s continuity programs was also suspended.
While Long will not lose his job, he will be required to pay back the government an undecided amount.