The Justice Department has requested that its inspector general conduct an independent investigation into allegations of quid pro quo hiring and wasteful spending at the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the department said in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) Thursday.
As previously reported by the Washington Free Beacon, Grassley’s office contacted the Marshal’s Service in March regarding whistleblower allegations it received claiming that Kimberly Beal, then the deputy assistant director of the Marshal’s Asset Forfeiture Division (AFD), had qualification requirements waived to hire a person for a high-paying contract who was recommended by Stacia Hylton, the director of the Marshals Service.
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According to the whistleblower, Beal did so while under consideration for her current position of assistant director, raising suspicions that the hiring was a quid pro quo arrangement.
Grassley’s office also received allegations that the AFD used asset forfeiture funds—funds raised through the seizure or property such as cars and cash—"to purchase extravagant office decorations such as custom wall paper and window treatments."
"In light of the extensive and important concerns raised in your letters and by your staff … the Department has referred these allegations for an independent investigation by the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)," the Justice Department said in its letter Thursday.
The Justice Department originally responded to inquiries from Grassley, saying Hylton had never recommended anyone for the position in question. However, last month the Justice Department sent Grassley a follow-up response saying that it "may have provided … inaccurate information."
Grassley’s office also said the Marshal’s response to queries regarding lavish decorating costs were "incomplete and potentially misleading." Grassley, who has pressed for the Justice Department to begin a probe, welcomed the news.
"It’s good to see the Justice Department taking seriously the numerous whistleblower claims of improper behavior and use of resources by a federal agency that is supposed to enforce our laws," Grassley said in a press release. "These claims by brave agency whistleblowers point to nothing less than a systemic culture of waste and abuse by agency officials, and we need to get to the bottom of this."