Politics Top Interior official retaliated against whistleblower, watchdog says
Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA
An independent government watchdog will investigate the Trump administration's alleged political interference with public health agencies, Democratic senators announced Monday.The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it had accepted a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) to review whether the scientific integrity and communications policies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been violated, and "whether those policies are being implemented as intended to assure scientific integrity throughout the agency.
The leader of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) retaliated against an employee who filed a complaint against him, according to an internal watchdog.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Interior Department said in a new report that USGS Director James Reilly had agency personnel reassign someone who had complained about him to a different job and concluded that the reassignment "qualified as personnel action under the [Whistleblower Protection Act]."
The report also found that evidence "strongly indicates that he had a motive to retaliate" after the person filed a complaint about him to the OIG.
Texas Attorney General’s Firing Spree Continues: Second Whistleblower Who Alleged Bribery Is Out of a Job
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continued to rid his office of the high-ranking aides who earlier this month accused him of committing multiple crimes, firing Blake Brickman on Tuesday.Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continued to rid his office of the high-ranking aides who earlier this month accused him of committing multiple crimes including bribery and abuse of office, firing a second whistleblower Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported Thursday evening. According to a former senior agency official, Blake Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives, was terminated on Tuesday.
Interior Department spokesperson Nicholas Goodwin said in an email that the report was "wrong in its legal and factual conclusions."
"The report attempts to turn the USGS human resources department's reassignment of an administrative employee into a prohibited personnel practice, which is fundamentally inaccurate given the employee requested to be reassigned multiple times before a complaint was issued, was moved with no reduction in pay or grade level and still reported to a senior GS-15 supervisor," Goodwin said. "Given the circumstances, this was unquestionably the appropriate action to take."
The OIG report's said, however, that the complainant "did not request this reassignment," which had different responsibilities and working conditions.
Second whistleblower who accused Texas AG of bribery fired from position: report
A second whistleblower was fired this week from the Texas attorney general's office after being among those who brought forth allegations of abuse and bribery against state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) earlier this month, The Texas Tribune reported Thursday. A former senior official who had knowledge of the firing told the Tribune that the office on Tuesday fired Blake Brickman, who had served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives for less than a year. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of legal retribution.
The report said that Reilly claimed that the reassignment was based on the person's inability to get along with another staff member and that they were a "negative influence" on the office
However, the other staff member told the inspector general that there were tensions during a certain period but also said they had a cordial working relationship with the person. Two people that Reilly said would corroborate his "negative influence" assertion did not say that the person's behavior was disruptive, the report said.
Witnesses also told the OIG that Reilly said that the complainant had "weaponized the IG process" against him and that Reilly said the person was "evil."
Reilly told the OIG that he had said that the person had an "evil streak," or something similar, and said it was a "very poor choice of words."
He also said that he did not specifically remember saying that the complainant weaponized the process, but said, "I would have made the comment to the fact that it can be weaponized ... and that when it's weaponized, there's no consequence."
Reilly also made headlines recently afterthat he had slowed the release of a study on the number of polar bears that give birth on land overlapping an area recently opened to oil and gas drilling.
4 dead in Vienna shooting; attacker sympathized with IS .
VIENNA (AP) — Austria's top security official said that four people have died — including one assailant — and fifteen people were wounded in a shooting in the heart of Vienna late Monday. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told reporters Tuesday that two men and a woman have died from their injuries. A suspected attacker, who was carrying an assault rifle and a fake suicide vest, was also shot and killed by police. © Provided by Associated Press A police officer stay in position at the scene after gunshots were heard, in Vienna, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.