New Heat on Obama to Fire Commerce IG
Policy + Politics

New Heat on Obama to Fire Commerce IG


Lawmakers are once again calling on President Obama to fire Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser amid a new allegation of whistleblower retaliation.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, the ranking Democrat on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said her committee was approached by a whistleblower who alleged that Zinser retaliated against her by placing her on leave for revealing misconduct in his office, The Washington Post first reported.

Related: Corruption in Commerce Dept? Lawmakers Want Him Out

Johnson told the Post that she believes it’s time for the IG to go. Last month, she sent President Obama a letter demanding that the administration look into Zinser’s actions and consider relieving him of his duties. According to Johnson, the president has been briefed on the issue but it is unclear what, if anything will be done.

Zinser has been under scrutiny for alleged misconduct at the Commerce Department and leading a “hostile work environment.” In 2013, the Office of Special Counsel found that two of his top aides had retaliated against whistleblowers in the IG’s office.  

Johnson also suggested earlier this year that Zinser had hired a woman for a high-level job with whom he was said to have romantic relations. The committee said she was not qualified for the position.

“There is a sustained pattern of misconduct and malfeasance that would be unacceptable in any senior federal official but is particularly troubling for an inspector general,” Johnson said in a statement last month.

Zinser, for his part, has continuously denied all allegations against him. In regards to the woman he hired, he told the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency that the woman was hired solely “on business necessity, not on a personal relationship.” He said he was not romantically involved with her.

There is currently a new Government Accountability Office investigation into Zinser’s performance that is expected to be released soon.

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