– By Domani Spero
We were writing our welcome back blog post for State/OIG last week when we noticed that there were new faces and reshuffled desks at the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department.
You may be aware by now that the new IG Steve Linick took office on September 30 but he wasn’t the only one who started fresh at the State Department. He came to the State Department with Emilia Di Santo, his Chief of Staff/Acting Deputy Inspector General for Policy from the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Inspector General’s Office (FHFA-OIG),and David Z. Seide, his Director of Special Projects at the FHFA-OIG.
Ms. Di Santo who was appointed Acting Deputy IG on October 1, succeeded Harold Geisel, the Deputy IG who served as OIG boss for the last five years while the State Department did not have a Senate-confirmed Inspector General.
Ms. Di Santo was with the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Inspector General’s Office for two years prior to this month’s move to the State Department. Previous to that, she was the Chief Investigative Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and was a longtime senior investigator for GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. During her time with committee, particularly from 2004 onwards, the Wall Street Journal called the Finance Committee “a chamber of misery for the pharmaceutical industry and medical device makers, using its mandate to stop Medicare fraud as the grounds for many investigations.” Ms. Di Santo also made news in 2005, when she was repeatedly attack by someone with an unidentified object believed to be a baseball bat while unloading her belongings at her home in Virginia. The Hill reported at that time that nine staples were needed to close her head wound and that the FBI and Capitol Police investigated the vicious attack amid concerns that the assault was related to her work on the Finance Committee. We could not locate a follow-up report on that incident. She did not give interviews, and simply returned to work. Ms. Di Santo had been expected to follow Senator Grassley to the Judiciary Committee but in 2011 she moved instead to the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Inspector General’s Office.
Mr. Seide was appointed Counselor to the Inspector General on October 18, 2013. Previously, he served for almost three years as Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Federal Housing Finance Agency. According to his LinkedIn profile, while in that capacity, he made significant contributions to the work of the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group. Mr. Seide also spent nearly 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for the investigation, prosecution and trial of multiple individuals and organizations suspected of engaging in securities and business fraud.
A side note here, Mr. Linick’s former office at Federal Housing Finance Agency worked with the RMBS Working Group and the New York Attorney General’s Office in support of the investigation and prosecution of RMBS fraud cases. On Friday, the WSJ reported that JP Morgan has reached a tentative agreement of roughly $4 billion to settle Federal Housing Finance Agency claims the bank misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about the quality of mortgages it sold to them during the housing boom. Over the weekend, the NYT also reported about a larger tentative settlement over JP Morgan Chase mortgage practices and a potential record of $13 billion in penalty.
Another interesting note we should add here. Mr. Linick was FHFA’s first Inspector General. When he came to office in 2010, FHFA accused him of exceeding authority and went so far as to restrict the OIG access to agency documents, shared drive, and instructed employees that they should not communicate with FHF A-OIG without first apprising FHFA management. This guy did not fold. (See Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) records provided to Senator Charles E. Grassley and Senator Tom Coburn concerning the independence of Inspectors General necessary to promote efficiency and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in agency programs, in response to the Senators’inquiry, 2011-2012, FOIA Request via governmentattic.org)
Two more new appointments:
On September 4, 2013, Karen Ouzts was appointed as the new Assistant Inspector General for Administration. She was previously the deputy at State/OIG’s Office of General Counsel. Ms. Ouzts succeeded David M. Yeutter who was appointed as OIG’s Executive Officer on October 2009. Mr. Yeutter is a Foreign Service specialist who presumably will return to a regular assignment in the Foreign Service.
On September 13, Norman P. Brown was appointed the Acting Assistant Inspector General for Audit. He was previously the deputy for the Audit directorate prior to this appointment. He succeeded Evelyn R. Klemstine who was appointed Assistant Inspector General for Audits in November 2009. State Magazine’s October 2013 issue listed Ms. Klemstine as newly retired from the Civil Service.
The following officials remain at posts:
- Robert Peterson, Assistant Inspector General for Inspections (Term of Appointment: 03/09/2003 to present)
- Anna S. Gershman, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations (Term of Appointment: 01/03/2011 to present)
- Erich Hart, General Counsel to the Inspector General, CPA Director (Term of Appointment: 04/14/2008 to present)
State/OIG has 318 employees, more than double FHFA-OIG staff. About 93% of State/OIG staff are civil servants. Interesting times, over there.
- Fannie, Freddie, and Mortgage Regulator Balked at Oversight, Watchdog Says (pogoblog.typepad.com)
- State Dept’s Internal Watchdogs Were Sent Home While Most Others Worked (thestateweekly.com)
- Senate Confirms Steve Linick; State Dept Finally Gets an Inspector General After 2,066 Days (diplopundit.net)
- Welcome Back, State/OIG, We’ve Missed You! (diplopundit.net)
- Infographic: Four Watchdogs Vacant for More Than 1,000 Days (pogoblog.typepad.com)