FEMA administrator probed over travel, auto use

Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba Puerto Rico

Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba Puerto Rico

The White House considered replacing Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, who is the subject of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation, before Hurricane Florence hit the East Coast, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

When FEMA administrator Brock Long started his job a year ago, he began to take routine trips home to North Carolina, using a government driver and vehicle to make the six-hour trek from Washington, D.C. An aide, who would stay in hotel room at taxpayer expense, would also accompany Long on these trips. "We will work with the OIG to get anything corrected", he added.

Long has said he will cooperate with the investigation and take it as an opportunity to make improvements to remain in line with regulations.

He is now overseeing the preparations for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the Southeast hard. "Doing something unethical is not part of my DNA and it is not part of my track record in my whole entire career".

Citing a source familiar with the matter, the newspaper reported that senior White House officials discussed replacing Long in the past several days, but chief of staff John Kelly ultimately chose to leave Long in his role until the internal watchdog's final report was completed.

Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Homeland Security, FEMA's parent agency, referred questions to the inspector general's office, which didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both FEMA and ICE are agencies managed by DHS.

"All questions about any potential investigation by the Office of the Inspector General should be directed to the IG".

As the FEMA administrator, Long serves as the head of the US disaster response.

"Having worked directly with him for over a year, I know Administrator Long to be an experienced and respected emergency manager", Jessica Nalepa, the spokeswoman, said in the statement. "He is known for his passion to help disaster survivors in their time of greatest need", Nalepa continued.

Long is now one of several top Trump administration officials who have faced intense scrutiny of their travel habits. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt were all felled in part due to their own lavish travel scandals.

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