In May 2014, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform revealed in a hearing that an Environmental Protection Agency employee who made $120,000 per year had been observed watching pornography at work—and had admitted that he watched two to six hours of pornography at work every day—but hadn’t yet been fired. In September 2014, Environment & Energy Publishing revealed that said employee still hadn’t been fired because, according to the EPA, investigations involving him were still ongoing.
In an April 30, 2015 hearing, the Oversight Committee returned to the issue of EPA employee discipline, and there’s good news, bad news, and worse news. The good news is that the pornography user in question—referred to as “Employee A” throughout the hearing—no longer works at the EPA. The bad news is that he’s gone because he retired, and he’d been on paid leave until he left. The worse news is that a different EPA employee—“Employee B”—was observed watching pornography by a child visiting an EPA office on Take Your Kids to Work Day in April 2014 and was still on paid leave at the time of the hearing. From the assistant EPA inspector general’s testimony:
Employee B … had been witnessed viewing pornography on his government laptop computer during work hours by a child who happened to be visiting the office during Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The employee admitted that he viewed pornography at work between one to four hours per day. He stated that approximately 30 to 40 percent of the data stored on his external – the electronic media devices contained pornography. Approximately 3,500 pornographic images were recovered from the employee’s laptop and external media. EPA placed the employee on paid administrative leave in May of 2014. In March 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined this case for prosecution. Last month, the EPA notified us that the employee had been proposed for removal.
According to testimony, Employee B contested his firing and was still involved in an appeals process at the time of the Oversight Committee hearing.
The time between the day Employee A was observed watching pornography at work and the time the EPA proposed his removal was 18 months. From the assistant inspector general’s prepared remarks:
The employee stated that much of his workday was devoted to organizing the downloaded pornography into saved folders. It was his belief that he was not doing anything wrong by accessing pornographic websites, since he was completing his required work and that other colleagues spend much of their assigned duty hours doing “personal” things rather than official EPA business.
The status of Employee A’s pension wasn’t discussed at the Oversight Committee hearing.