For an agency with 34,300 employees, the fact that just roughly 325 to 350 FBI employees are disciplined each year bodes pretty well for their ethical conduct. But that doesn’t make the violations allegedly committed by those who engaged in conduct unbecoming any less disturbing.
CNN came out with a story today that runs down some of the most egregious violations of ethical standards as revealed by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility thanks to their Freedom of Information Act request.
Many of the violations involved threats to release sex tapes, improper leaking of sensitive information, sexual relationships with witnesses, harassment of employees and even an employee who yelled “Rodney King” out of his car window and nearly struck a law enforcement official.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most violations by individuals in the nation’s top law enforcement agency over the last three years.
One FBI employee leaked sensitive information to his reporter girlfriend and improperly stored secret documents in a hotel room which she had access to. Once they broke up, he threatened her with the release of a sex tape they had made together. She reported the threats to a U.S. Attorney’s office. He also reportedly misused his credentials to get into a nightclub and misused a government vehicle. He resigned before he was dismissed.
Another employee was involved in a car accident while drunk. When he got to the hospital, he attempted to punch a nurse and refused to have his blood alcohol measured. He received a 60-day suspension.
Illegal weapons got another FBI employee in trouble with the bureau after he was found to be in possession of an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine and an M3A1. Both were felonies under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He also illegally sold high-capacity magazines over the internet and sold guns without using a licensed dealer, a violation of state law. That employee was suspended for 60 days.
Another employee confessed during a polygraph test to doing unauthorized FBI database searches on celebrities the employee thought were “hot.” She also conducted searches on two employees’ boyfriends and shared the results with them. She was suspended for 30 days.
An FBI supervisor watched porn and masturbated inside his office during work hours. His punishment? A 25-day suspension.
During a flight, an FBI agent misused his position by requesting, three times, to be upgraded to first class. He reportedly “attempted to play upon the flight attendants’ post-9/11 fears by stating that he should be in the first class between the cockpit and any potential threat.” He got a 7-day suspension.
One employee got into a verbal fight with a group of teens while he was intoxicated at an amusement part. He then confronted their parents. When security asked him to leave the park, he refused, and was ultimately arrested for public intoxication.
While driving by a felony traffic stop, an employee yelled “Rodney King” out his car window and lost control of his vehicle, nearly hitting a police officer. He denied he yelled “Rodney King,” claiming instead that he had yelled “Geez Louise,” was rude to the officers who stopped him and displayed his FBI credentials. He was dismissed from the bureau.
About 325 to 350 employees a year — roughly one percent of the FBI’s 34,300 employees — receive some kind of discipline, which can be anything from a reprimand to suspension, said the bureau. The FBI says about 30 employees are fired each year.
“We do have a no-tolerance policy,” FBI Assistant Director Candice Will told CNN. “We don’t tolerate our employees engaging in misconduct. We expect them to behave pursuant to the standards of conduct imposed on all FBI employees.”
But employees, she said, “are human, as we all are. We all make mistakes. So, our discipline is intended to reflect that.”
“We understand that employees can make mistakes, will make mistakes. When appropriate, we will decide to remove an employee,” she told CNN. “When we believe that an employee can be rehabilitated and should be given a second chance, we do that.”
The FBI’s release of the relatively detailed report surpasses the level of transparency in the Office of Professional Responsibility at its parent agency, the Justice Department. DOJ OPR officials have been slow to respond to FOIA requests for more information on the discipline of federal prosecutors and the latest annual report posted to its website is from fiscal year 2008.
Names or identifying information about the FBI employees disciplined are not included in the FBI’s summary.
Additional reporting by Melissa Jeltsen.