Toadies Only

From Holden:

The Bush administration actually found someone at the Department of Fatherland Security who was independent and competent. So of course he had to go.

Clark Ervin made himself very unpopular by issuing a series of stinging reports on security programs that he said had failed, officials he called inept, and fraud that he suspected. His year-end report, out today, alleges that millions of dollars have been wasted or are unaccounted for by the department.

“There isn’t a concern about the importance of spending every single dollar to the maximum effect of the core mission of the department,” Ervin told ABC News.

The White House appointed Ervin as inspector general for the Homeland Security Department only for the term of Congress. He wanted to stay on, but was informed Wednesday night that he would be replaced. “His term expired and that’s that,” said a White House spokesperson.

“I think this was a voice that was a little too critical and made the administration a little too uncomfortable,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government watchdog group.

Among the investigations being conducted by Ervin was what he called an illegal contract with the Boeing company for the installation of explosive detection machines at airports. “At least $49 million, almost $50 million, in excessive profit was paid to Boeing,” according to Ervin.

Ervin also investigated the half-million-dollar awards reception held at a Washington hotel for airport screeners from the Transportation Security Administration. “It was rather lavish, no question,” said Ervin.

But what bothered Ervin even more was that the executives at the TSA also rewarded themselves — in cash. “About 88 senior executives were given cash awards,” said Ervin. “That’s about 76 percent of the senior executives there.”