Former President Barack Obama is being dragged back into the limelight after auditors discovered preferential treatment under the former administration’s watch.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), is ordering the Department of Energy (DOE) to turn over all documents related to a recent case in which the government agency provided funding for an engineer to obtain a law degree completely unrelated to his job. Rep. Smith is concerned that the taxpayers are footing the bill for other DOE employees hoping to switch careers later in life, reports The Daily Caller.
According to Department of Energy auditors, the agency spent $138,000 taxpayer dollars to train one of their engineers to become a lawyer.
“The Committee is concerned this could be an indication of a more widespread occurrence of inappropriate training authorizations and expenditures within DOE,” charged Smith, who is the current chair of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology.
In his letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Smith wrote: “To better understand this case, and learn what steps DOE has taken to prevent a similar occurrence in the future, we request that DOE provide certain documents and information to the Committee.”
Typically, the Department of Energy can only provide funding for education that is “mission oriented,” yet auditors discovered that Darian Ghorbi was “enrolled in three to four law-related courses a semester at the American University in Washington, DC,” according to the auditors report. “Based on our review, we concluded that a majority of the courses taken by the employee were unrelated to his position at the Department.”
Specifically, the Texas lawmaker is concerned that the Obama administration was providing preferential treatment for certain employees. “The Committee has questions about why Darian Ghorbi received preferential treatment during his tenure at DOE under the prior administration,” demanded Smith.
According to Department of Energy auditors, Darian Ghorbi, who was originally hired as an engineer, was offered taxpayer money to attend law classes in DC. However, shortly after obtaining his degree Ghorbi left the Energy Department “for work in the private sector,” investigators found. Further, investigators discovered that the Obama administration “had not considered the use of a continued service agreement for this employee despite the fact that he had taken extensive training at considerable cost.”
Suspiciously, the auditors discovered that the Department of Energy already had a policy in place to prevent employees from leaving after obtaining a skills upgrade but that “these controls were overridden by senior management officials in the approval chain at the time.”
When the auditors attempted to interview management over their decision to wave retention policies they ran into a major road block. They could not interview the former management personnel “because they had left the agency.”
Now, Rep. Smith is worried that other former Energy Department employees received the same sweetheart deal, and were able to receive free education on the taxpayers’ dime.
Our DOE paid for an engineer to go to law school. You got a problem with that?
If former President Obama was providing special treatment for certain employees we need to know why. Why was the DOE so invested in Darian Ghorbi’s law degree, if they were not invested in keeping Ghorbi as an employee?
The answers to questions like this are certainly relevant to Smith’s committee. And they should be important to the American people as well.