Darrell Issa, a California Republican who chairs the House
oversight panel, expressed concern about possible improper hiring
practices at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
In a letter to FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Issa said
his committee had also learned that senior Treasury officials may
have known about the practice.
Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and ranking member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, is separately looking into the matter. He said
he intends to object to the nomination of Nani Coloretti, a senior
Treasury official, to be the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, until his questions have been
Coloretti, who is currently Treasury's Assistant Secretary for
Management, was nominated by the Obama administration for the HUD
job in April but has not yet been confirmed by Congress. She advises
the Treasury secretary on budget, strategic plans and the internal
management of the department and its bureaus.
FinCEN spokesman Stephen Hudak said in an emailed statement that the
agency had received the letter from Issa and will respond as
appropriate. A Treasury spokesman said that it had received Senator
Grassley's request and it would also reply as appropriate.
The White House had no immediate comment.
The inquiries by Grassley and Issa, whose Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform has launched investigations into various
government affairs in the past couple of years, could become a new
source of embarrassment for the Obama administration.
Reuters reported on May 2 that the Treasury had temporarily
suspended FinCENís hiring authority and forced it to rescind 11 job
offers after a federal government labor watchdog determined that the
bureau had illegally screened candidates in a quest to hire only
lawyers for certain positions.
Most U.S. government positions fall into a standard set of job
bands, which determine things such as pay and minimum
qualifications. Federal law bars the government from screening
candidates for qualifications that go beyond the job's standard
FinCEN, in the midst of a hiring campaign, however, screened
candidates to hire only lawyers for certain jobs, even though the
positions did not require a law degree, sources have previously
[to top of second column]
Later in May, Reuters reported that FinCEN may have also run afoul
of federal regulations that require military veterans to be given
preference for jobs in the government if they are qualified.
"The fact that FinCEN allegedly rejected pools of candidates made up
of qualified veterans who met the criteria listed in the initial job
postings effectively amounts to discrimination," Issa wrote in the
letter. "If these allegations are true, FinCEN's actions are starkly
at odds with this Administration's public proclamations supporting
the hiring of veterans returning home from active duty."
The Obama administration has in recent weeks come under heavy fire
over the treatment of veterans. Last week, U.S. Veterans Affairs
Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after a political firestorm over
widespread delays in veterans' medical care.
Issa's letter requests that FinCEN provide records of all pertinent
communications between Shasky Calvery, FinCEN General Counsel
Carlton Greene, and any employee in the Treasury general counsel's
office or Coloretti's office.
It also seeks other communications records as well as documents
outlining FinCEN's hiring policies and procedures. It asks for the
documents by June 16.
Grassley said in a statement to Reuters that in light of his and
Issa's requests, the Treasury should make the documents they had
requested available without delay.
"Federal hiring rules exist for good reason, and the public has a
right to know whether the Treasury Department is flouting the
rules," he said.
(Reporting by Brett Wolf of the Compliance Complete service of
Thomson Reuters Accelus in St. Louis and Emily Flitter in
Washington; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Martin Howell)
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