FEMA Chief Brock Long’s Unauthorized Travel Cost Government $151,000, Inspector General Report Shows

President Trump’s top disaster official cost the government $151,000 through the unauthorized use of government vehicles that included travel to his home in North Carolina, according to an internal investigation.

Source: WSJ - Michael G. Bender | Published on September 26, 2018

Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also relied on government vehicles and employees to drive him and his family around Hawaii during a trip that included official functions and a vacation, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

Mr. Long’s use of government vehicles and staff cost $94,000 in salary, $55,000 in travel expenditures and $2,000 in maintenance-related costs, according to a portion of the inspector general’s report obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the DHS secretary, released a statement Friday night saying that she had ordered Mr. Long to repay the government “as appropriate.” A spokesman for Ms. Nielsen said Tuesday that the secretary and Mr. Long hadn’t yet agreed on the total that would be repaid.

In the same statement on Friday, Mr. Long said he would “accept full responsibility for any mistakes that were made by me.” He didn’t specify what those mistakes were. A spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.

Mr. Long traveled to Hawaii in the spring to meet with federal and military officials who would be involved in responding to an emergency, said people familiar with the trip.

After meeting with officials, Mr. Long remained in Hawaii for several days with his family, the people said. According to the inspector general, a FEMA aide “provided transportation to Long and his family in a vehicle rented by the U.S. government.”

That aide, Keith LaFoucade, destroyed evidence of the trip in an attempt to thwart the investigation, according to the report. Mr. LaFoucade has been suspended, said a person familiar with the matter. Mr. LaFoucade couldn’t be reached for comment.

John Veatch, a senior FEMA official who oversaw the agency’s continuity programs, has also been suspended due to his involvement in Mr. Long’s travel, according to people familiar with the matter. Politico earlier reported Mr. Veatch’s suspension.

The trip to Hawaii coincided with a family vacation, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Long scheduled the trip in March 2017, during a week that coincided with spring break for his two young sons, according to a publicly available school calendar.

Mr. Long’s official trip was never publicly announced. A FEMA spokeswoman said it was scheduled to meet with local officials about the Pacific hurricane season, which was three months away, and to discuss the false missile alarm in the state that had unnerved residents, which occurred two months earlier.

Mr. Long was in Hawaii for about a week, traveling to and from the tropical archipelago from his home in North Carolina, according to a person familiar with the matter. That trip happened after Mr. Long left Washington on March 23, a Friday. He returned to the capital on April 3, a Tuesday, the person said.

While in Hawaii, Mr. Long and some FEMA staff met with Hawaii Gov. David Ige on March 27, Hawaii records show. That same day, Mr. Long also visited the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations Center, state records show.

A FEMA spokeswoman said that Mr. Long’s trip also included meetings with officials with the U.S. Pacific Command, but didn’t provide additional detail.

On the tour of the center, Mr. Long was joined by a half-dozen FEMA staffers, including Mr. LaFoucade, state records show.

In her statement on Friday, Ms. Nielsen said she had reviewed the inspector general’s report and that she had “full confidence” in Mr. Long.