OIG Report Finds Flores Violated Ethics Rules

Note: This story has been corrected

Federal investigators have found that J. Robert Flores violated ethics rules and used questionable grant making and hiring procedures during his tenure as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Flores “violated the federal ethics regulations” by accepting a round of golf in 2006 with officials from the World Golf Foundation, according to a report issued today by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice. The association’s First Tee program received a grant from OJJDP in 2007 despite scoring well below losing applicants in the peer review process.

Flores told investigators he eventually attempted to pay for the round of golf; the receipt he provided showed payment two years later, the day before Flores was to testify before the House Oversight Committee regarding 2007 grants.

OIG also found that Flores did little to explain why First Tee and other lower-scoring applicants got grants in 2007. First Tee’s honorary chair is George H.W. Bush. Another grantee, the Best Friends Foundation, was led by the Elayne Bennett, the wife of conservative pundit Bill Bennett. Another grant went to Victory Outreach in partnership with Urban Strategies LLC, a consulting firm run by Lisa Cummins, who previously worked in the White House Office for Faith Based Initiatives. Victory Outreach later turned down the grant.

“We could not corroborate Flores’s stated reasons for his award recommendations or disprove the allegations that subjective or personal factors improperly influenced his decisions,” the report stated.

The allegations about grant making were first reported by Youth Today in December 1999. Full coverage of the issue is here.

Also, Flores “did not use normal contracting procedures,” OIG said, in the hiring of Hector Rene Fonseca, a former Honduran military official who was paid approximately $281,000 from 2004 to 2007 as a consultant on OJJDP projects. Flores directed Fonseca to be hired as part of a contract with Aspen Systems/Lockheed Martin in 2004. When the contract ended, Flores directed another contractor, DB Consulting, to hire Fonseca.

Fonseca’s role was to bring in faith-based partners for OJJDP’s Gang Reduction Program, which had pilot sites in Miami, Wisconsin, Richmond, Va., and Los Angeles. OIG reported “mixed opinions” on the value of Fonseca’s contributions to the program.

“Fonseca’s work was not sufficient, particularly in view of his rate of compensation and the duration of his contract,” the report said. “However, the OIG could not conclude based on all the evidence that Fonseca’s contract was a misuse of OJJDP funds.”

The report did not recommend any action against Flores, other than placement of the report in his personnel file.

Read the report here.


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