June 04, 2020

Maloney, DeFazio, Connolly Statement on Acting DOT IG Refusal to Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Washington, D.C. (June 4, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, the Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, issued the following statement after Acting Inspector General Elliott told the Committees in a letter that he would not resign from his position as head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA):  

“Mr. Elliott doesn’t seem to get it.  He wants to stay in a position at the Department and report directly to Secretary Chao, while at the same time supposedly taking on the ‘independent’ role of Inspector General—overseeing the Secretary.  He can’t do both.  He has to choose, and so does Secretary Chao.

“Mr. Elliott’s letter doesn’t even include a commitment to recuse himself from the 13 current investigations and 11 ongoing audits involving the Office of the Secretary.  While Mr. Elliott says he will recuse himself from investigations into the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the IG’s office has 19 open investigations related to PHMSA.  Cordoning himself off from activities that are central to the integrity of the IG’s office is simply untenable. The Trump Administration needs to stop pursuing its own political agenda at the expense of the American people.”

On May 19, 2020, the Chairs wrote to Mr. Elliott about the “inherent conflict of interest” created by him serving simultaneously as Acting Inspector General and PHMSA Administrator.

To ensure that the Inspector General’s work continues unimpeded, the Chairs asked that the office to provide detailed information about ongoing matters at the time of Mr. Elliott’s appointment. 

On June 2, 2020, the Office of Inspector General provided the Chairs with a list of ongoing matters, which include multiple investigations into the Office of the Secretary.