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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Inside the EPA’s contract ban for a Trump-era appointee

The EPA, spanning two administrations, first suspended and then barred federal contracts from a Trump-era Southeast regional director who dropped out of the agency with ethical problems.

Records obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of Information Act shed more light on how the contract ban for Trey Glenn, who headed EPA Region 4, was successful. They show that EPA officials took note of the Alabama political scandal that led to Glenn resigning from the agency in 2018.

The core of the scandal was the Drummond Company Inc., an influential Birmingham coal company. It was a bribery scheme to save U.S. from financial cleanup responsibility for a Superfund site in a predominantly black, low-income area. Glenn, who was then a $250 an hour consultant, and a business partner played supporting roles on Drummond’s behalf.

Federal agencies often do not consider their former senior political appointments to be a risk to government interests.

“On one hand, this is unusual,” Steven Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University Law School, told E&E News. “On the other hand, it makes perfectly good sense in this context.”

The documents also show that the agency did not comply with a recommendation to ban Glenn from federal contracts for five years. Instead, the EPA kept that ban a year shorter.

The EPA’s suspension and debarment officer, Duke Nguyen, said he had considered the suspension and debarment division’s counsel’s recommendation for debarment for five years and “weighed all mitigating factors that apply in this case.”

“After careful consideration of the entire administrative record, I have concluded that a period of four years is needed to protect the government,” he said in a letter to Glenn signed in April last year.

In a December memo from a year earlier, the SDD recommended a ban on Glenn for up to five years, citing a number of reasons, including the former regional administrator’s “conduct that provided evidence of a plan to conceal or conceal the misconduct”. Dia that displays a keen awareness of wrongdoing and a special focus on deception.”

Schooner said the EPA’s contract ban, even a year less than recommended, was still a harsh punishment.

“Think of it this way: One ‘suspension’ is capped at one year,” Schooner said. “Anything longer, especially a ban of three or more years, is generally regarded as an economic death sentence.”

EPA spokesman Tim Carroll told E&E News that Nguyen, based on his assessment of the evidence, “determined that a period of four years was necessary to protect the public interest.”

Glen could not be reached by E&E News for this story. Matt Hart, who was Glenn’s ethics attorney, did not respond to questions.

Hart did not comment on Glenn’s ban when contacted last year after the EPA’s Office of Inspector General disclosed the ban in a semiannual report (greenwireNovember 24, 2021).

‘Lack of business integrity’

Records show that the push by the EPA to ban Glenn from federal contracts began years ago and appears to grow as the case against him progresses.

In 2018, Glenn, the head of the EPA’s Southeast office, was indicted in a case referred by the Alabama Ethics Commission, which was dealing with his previous consulting work for Drummond. He soon resigned from the agency (E&E News PMNovember 19, 2018).

“As you know, baseless allegations have been made against me that I should and should fight,” Glenn said in his resignation letter addressed to then-administrator Andrew Wheeler. “I won’t let this fight be a distraction for our team.”

Then on February 8 of the following year, Glenn was given a supersession indictment where prosecutors dropped some of the charges against him. The EPA’s Debarment Division took notice.

“The following facts have come to my attention and are presented in support of this request for immediate suspension,” the division recommended in the March 21, 2019 memorandum from Glenn’s federal contracts.

The EPA filed a memo recommending Glenn’s suspension after the agency “received a document of criminal action against Mr. Glenn in February 2019,” said Carroll with the EPA.

The memo states that Glenn’s indictment “indicates a lack of business integrity or business integrity that seriously and directly affects his current responsibility.” Furthermore, his alleged misconduct “indicates that action is necessary to protect the public and the integrity of federal programs.”

The memo also mentions who shared Glenn’s indictment with the Debarment Division. “The EPA Office of the Inspector General referred the matter to EPA SDD,” according to the record.

“EPA OIG declined to comment,” Watchdog Office spokeswoman Lori Hoffman told E&E News when contacted for this story.

The EPA later sent Glenn a notice of suspension the following April, saying he was immediately suspended from “participation in future federal contracts and aid activities.”

Then in 2020, Glenn pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor ethics violations and paid the fine. His one-year prison term was suspended, and he was placed on two years of unsecured probation.

The EPA recommended Glenn’s continued suspension in a December 2020 memo and proposed a ban for up to five years for him. It also noted that the matter was investigated by the Inspector General of the EPA.

Court filings, business records and EPA information were attached to the memo.

The agency then sent Glenn a notice of that action, noting that “he has or is expected to have a business relationship with the federal government.”

Similar to language in other letters sent to Glenn, the notice stated that “offers will not be solicited, contracts awarded, existing contracts renewed or otherwise extended” by any executive branch agency.

His debarment decision, then, was sent to Glenn on April 2 last year. It was noted to date, Glenn had not responded to the EPA. It also stated that Glenn “was not a responsible contractor/participant;” showed “lack of business integrity and honesty;” And there was “an unusual risk to the integrity of federal programs”.

“The removal will end on April 9, 2023,” the decision said.

“The debarment period includes the period when Mr. Glenn was previously suspended,” agency spokesman Carroll said.

The EPA’s IG office also summed up Glenn’s tribulations in a report. The Watchdog Office was in contact with the Debarment Division, an OIG special agent, receiving a decision from the Division to ban Glenn from contracts.

excluded from contracts

Glenn is listed on the exclusion list of a federal contract database.

So does a firm also mentioned in the documents that Glenn is affiliated with Southeast Engineering & Consulting LLC. The firm’s contract ban ends on the same day Glenn’s in 2023.

E&E News is owned by the SEC or Blue Ridge Consulting Inc. No federal contract was found for, which was listed on his recusal statement as Glenn’s former employer. According to a federal database, Strada Professional Services LLC — another former employer involved in Glenn’s recusal — had at least two contracts.

It is unclear whether Glenn is currently affiliated with any of the companies. Attempts to reach the SEC’s registered agent were unsuccessful. Strada employees did not respond to a message sent this week through the company’s online contact page.

Last fall, Glenn’s LinkedIn page — since taken down — showed that he was working for a US affiliate of Litostroj, a then Slovenian-based supplier of hydroelectric equipment. A Litostros manager did not respond to an email request yesterday for information about Glenn’s employment status with the company.

Not only is it common for companies to be suspended or banned, but their executives and key personnel are also included, Schooner said.

“If the government doesn’t trust anyone or wants to do business with them, the government itself doesn’t want to do business with them because they are now hiding behind a new or different corporate name,” he said.

EPA spokeswoman Carroll said Glenn is not an agency contractor and that EPA is not aware of any contracts he has with any other agency.

Yet the EPA determined that without the suspension or ban, Glenn “would have a reasonable likelihood of having a business relationship with the federal government,” said Carroll, adding Glenn’s experience to the EPA regional administrator, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Consulting Work. Looking as.

Contract restrictions often occur at the federal level. According to a report by the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee, the agencies issued 415 suspensions and 1,256 debarments across the government in FY20.

Glenn’s contract ban would not bar state or local agencies receiving EPA funding from doing business with them, but it is common for those entities with international groups to “piggyback” on the federal government’s exclusion list, according to Schooner. .

“If Americans don’t want to do business with a firm or individual, why should we?” They said.

jail time for others

Two years after Glenn’s guilty plea, the results are still in play.

Now serving time in the same minimum-security prison, there are two central figures in a plan to pay the then-Alabama state legislator to oppose a proposal to add the Birmingham-area Superfund site to the national priority list, a designation that could be omitted. Hay Drummond is liable for cleaning liabilities of millions of dollars.

Last year the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their bids to overturn their respective 2018 convictions, David Roberson, once Drummond’s head of government affairs, and Joel Gilbert, of famed law firm Balch & Bingham LLP. was a former partner. He served his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp Montgomery at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. According to the Bureau of Prisons website, Roberson is scheduled to release Gilbert in December 2023, followed by January 2026.

Still awaiting trial in Alabama state court is Scott Phillips, business partner at Glenn’s Southeast Engineering. The two also shared relationships with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Glenn was director of the department from 2005 to 2009; Phillips sat on the department’s governing commission from 2002 to 2017, while also serving at least briefly at the engineering firm.

According to prosecutors, Philipso Allegedly to help Drummond shut down his state of affairs. He has pleaded not guilty. While his trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, that date is not expected to last, according to the court filing. It is not clear whether talks are on on the petition.

In an email yesterday, one of Phillips’ attorneys, Ben Espy, declined to discuss the status of the case, citing “pending litigation.” He also declined to say whether Philips still played any role in the SEC or affiliated firms.

According to records maintained by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, Southeast Engineering still exists, but its last annual report dates back to 2018—the same year that Glenn and Phillips were indicted.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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