HHS Inspector General Janet Rehnquist was not authorized to carry a firearm or possess law enforcement credentials, and she acted improperly in doing so, a committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency concluded. The committee, however, said punitive action was unnecessary because Rehnquist has resigned, effective in June. A copy of the committee's report, not yet released publicly, was obtained by Modern Healthcare's Daily Dose. According to the report, Rehnquist, daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, possessed an unloaded handgun for 24 hours in her office but did not use it. The report said Rehnquist believed she was entitled to carry the firearm and law enforcement credentials, which would allow her to bypass security screening at federal buildings. She requested the firearm through HHS Deputy Inspector General Vicki Shepherd and on June 3 received the gun from an HHS firearms instructor, in the absence of a supervisor, for training. The supervisor demanded and received the weapon back one day later after informing the office that Rehnquist did not qualify for it. A spokeswoman for Rehnquist's office said she had not received an official copy of the report and could not comment.
Meanwhile, a General Accounting Office report on Rehnquist's performance as inspector general is expected to be issued in late May. The report was requested by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who have criticized Rehnquist's handling of the watchdog agency. -- by Mark Taylor