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WASTE WATCH: Gov't Agency in Spotlight After Woman Tells on Herself
Updated: Tuesday, November 12 2013, 10:57 PM CST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tonight we're tracking fraud, waste and abuse in Washington, D.C. Turns out a federal agency used your money to buy big screen tv's, jewelry and a car. Reporter Jeff Barnd teamed up with our investigative partner the Washington Examiner to spotlight this waste. This is what "Lifestyles of the Not Necessarily Rich or Famous" looks like for some federal workers. All of it bought or leased with your tax dollars. How many dollars? If anyone knows about government waste, it's Berkina Porter, a Washington insider for more than 3 decades. Up until last January, she was the former Director of Administrative Services for the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS), where she tracked employee spending on government credit cards, telling top executives like agency Director George H. Cohen that employees abused federal purchase cards (basically credit cards).
One employee leased a luxury car for $53,000. Others purchased flat screen tvs, computer equipment and jewelry. One worker even rented commercial storage space for personal belongings. The Director, Mr. Cohen, used the card to purchase art work from his wife to decorate offices at FMCS headquarters in Washington. The FMCS employs about 230 people to settle big labor disputes such as when NFL players go on strike. Our investigative media partner the Washington Examiner scoured thousands of documents related to how the agency spends its $50 million a year budget. After Porter took her findings to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which substantiated her claims, she says armed guards in January, 2012 escorted her out of FMCS and told her not to return.
Technically she's still employed by the agency and continues to receive her $136,000 a year salary. In addition, the FMCS gave her more than $70,000 to walk away and paid her attorney's fees. When asked about the waste, FMCS sent a statement saying they found these allegations were inaccurate.
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