The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the administrator of its juvenile justice office used government funds to take trips that were more about personal recreation than government business.
Staffers who traveled with J. Robert Flores, head of the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, have told investigators that Flores spent a lot of his time on personal recreation and little on work.
“Whenever I went with Bob, it was sports activities, eating a lot,” said one staffer. “It was not a flat-out boondoggle, but it was close.”
The department’s Office of the Inspector General has collected Flores’ travel records and interviewed staffers who have traveled with him over the past several years. One staffer said the inspector general is looking at “dozens” of trips.
Another person who traveled with Flores said the administrator seemed to spend most of his time playing golf, spending little time at whatever conference they had traveled to attend.
“I saw him leave [the hotel] both days with his golf shoes and golf bag” and didn’t see him again until evening, that person said. “He showed up at night for the banquet” at the conference they were attending.
The first staff member said that during one multi-day trip, Flores “showed up at one speaking engagement” and did little, if any, other official work.
Traveling is, of course, part of the job for the head of a federal agency. And it is not clear whether Flores used vacation time for any of the trips.
Long-time OJJDP employees said that Flores’ travel seemed excessive, and that they’ve been telling the inspector general’s office about their observations for several years.
“We didn’t see him in the office so much,” one said. “He would travel around a lot.”
ABC News reported on its website yesterday that the inspector general is also investigating what work was done by a former Honduran general, Hector Rene Fonseca, whom Flores hired as a contractor at OJJDP.