A federal review board concluded last week that HHS Inspector General Janet Rehnquist was not authorized to carry a handgun or possess law enforcement credentials, according to a report obtained by Modern Healthcare, but the agency did not recommend taking any action against her.
The President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which oversees federal inspectors general, said in its report on Rehnquist's conduct that any action against her would be moot because she's planning to resign in June (March 10, p. 8). The U.S. Department of Justice declined to press criminal charges.
The integrity committee, which was chaired by FBI Assistant Director Grant Ashley, concluded that Rehnquist illegally possessed an unloaded but operational SIG Sauer P228 handgun for 24 hours in an office credenza. The report offered the following chronology of events: Rehnquist, believing she was entitled to carry a firearm and law enforcement credentials that would allow her to circumvent security at federal buildings and airports, had allegedly requested the firearm, which was obtained through HHS Deputy Inspector General Vicki Shepherd. On June 3, a firearm instructor for HHS, in the absence of a supervisor, provided the handgun to Shepherd to give Rehnquist for firearm training. However, the next day, the instructor's supervisor demanded and received the weapon after informing the office that Rehnquist did not qualify for it.
The report said there was no evidence that Rehnquist, the daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, used the firearm or credentials. The report, which has not yet been made public, has been sent to HHS Deputy Secretary Claude Allen for further review of Shepherd's role in the affair. The report will be posted within the next two weeks on the inspectors general Web site, ignet.gov.
In spite of her decision to resign, Rehnquist's troubles are not over. In May, the General Accounting Office is expected to issue a report on the controversial inspector general's job performance.
That report was requested by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the current and past chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee, respectively. The two have criticized her handling of the HHS oversight agency. A spokesman for the finance committee declined to comment on the Rehnquist conduct report, saying the findings speak for themselves and point to flaws in Rehnquist's judgment.