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Opposes HR 4934 in Response to CNN Article

October 3, 2014

Mark Preston
Executive Editor, CNN Politics
The CNN Building
820 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Mr. Preston:

I am writing in response to Sean Kennedy’s article from September 23, 2014 entitled, "Uncle Sam’s Auditors Carry Guns.” As I read the article, I was appalled by its complete disregard for the truth and facts of the matter. Mr. Kennedy’s summation of the facts had almost no truth and he clearly does not have even a rudimentary knowledge of federal law enforcement in the 21st century. For example, Mr. Kennedy, in inflammatory manner, would have the reader believe that the 2002 Homeland Security Act somehow turned auditors into "gun‐toting sworn officers.” The truth is that the 2002 Homeland Security Act did not turn auditors into "guntoting sworn officers.” The auditors that Mr. Kennedy was referring to are highly trained and experienced federal agents authorized to enforce the laws of the United States.

In his article, Mr. Kennedy references Rep. Stewart’s ridiculous ascertains that OIG’s have been "stockpiling” weapons and Congress had no idea what type of weapons or how many each agency had. I am sure if Rep. Stewart or Mr. Kennedy had taken the time to ask, they would have received an accurate number. Indeed, Congress held a hearing in 2013 and asked Inspector General Patrick  O’Carroll of the Social Security Administration how many agents worked for him and he testified that about 290 special agents carry firearms.  The fact is, there is not a single OIG stockpiling weapons as if they are waiting to take some kind of nefarious action against the very citizens they swore an oath to protect.

Mr. Kennedy is either severely misinformed or enjoys proclaiming grandiose ideas when he suggests that meat inspectors and crop insurance claims adjustors need automatic weapons. The only individuals at the USDA‐OIG carrying firearms are professional and highly trained law enforcement agents.

Both Mr. Kennedy and Rep. Stewart claim that OIG special agents are nothing but untrained,  unprofessional "regulators” who have no business carrying guns and enforcing the laws of the United States.  They both claim that those functions would be better served by traditional law enforcement agencies such as the United States Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation. What Mr. Kennedy does not mention in his article, or what Rep. Stewart does not want the average American citizen to know, is that every single OIG agent, regardless of which OIG they are employed by, have gone through at least 12 weeks of basic criminal investigator training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). This 12‐week basic training program is the exact same training program to which most federal law enforcement agencies send their recruits, including the U.S. Marshals Service, US Park Police and Homeland Security Investigations.

Furthermore, each OIG agent must attend a three to four week basic Inspector General Training  program at FLETC. In addition, each agent must adhere to 40 or more hours per year of continuing education and training per a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice. If Mr. Kennedy had done his homework, he would have discovered that a vast majority of OIG agents transferred from other "traditional” federal or local law enforcement organizations and bring a vast amount of law enforcement and investigative knowledge with them.

Rep. Stewart wants the American public to think that OIG’s are unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer’s money. What he does not tell you is that most OIG agencies are self‐funded because they recoup money back to the US Treasury from criminal investigations. For example, in the past three years, the Department of Labor‐Office of Labor Racketeering special agents’ work resulted in 1,277 criminal convictions and $679 million in recoveries.

In fiscal year 2013, the Social Security Administration‐Office of Inspector General openedover 8,000 criminal cases resulting in 1,300 convictions. Congress and the American people expect our government to vigorously investigate fraud and bring those lawbreakers to justice. Our traditional law enforcement agencies are already overburdened and it wouldbe a vast stretch to suggest that those agencies have the manpower or expert knowledge to successfully work white collar fraud to the current levels of the OIGs. Does Rep. Stewart honestly believe that the US Marshals Service would investigate 8,000 criminal Social Security cases?

Rep. Stewart makes the preposterous statement that working white‐collar crime does not carry any inherent risks and there is no valid reason why special agents need to carry guns. Rep. Stewart’s statement shows his ignorance and truly displays his lack of knowledge concerning federal law enforcement. It is truly sad when an elected member of Congress so blatantly airs his ignorance for all to see.

I am shocked that CNN would allow such low‐grade journalism to be published without first checking facts and hearing from other sources. I thought CNN was a better news organization than this, but clearly, someone was asleep at the helm.

Respectfully,

Nathan R. Catura
Executive Vice President