Sen. Charles Grassley is questioning the Justice Department about why a federal prosecutor who spent hours viewing pornography, including allegedly at least one image of child pornography, was not charged with a crime.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Grassley, who is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, disclosed that a recent review by DOJ's Inspector General found that an assistant U.S. attorney admitted that he viewed pornography for hours each day during work hours.
A brief summary of the IG report noted, "The investigation determined that the AUSA [assistant US attorney] routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA's government computer. The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined prosecution. Disciplinary action against the AUSA is pending."
In a letter to Holder, Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was concerned about why the federal prosecutor was not charged and why the department has not taken disciplinary action against the prosecutor.
Federal Prosecutor Caught Viewing Porn on Office Computer
"As the case for disciplinary action is 'pending' as of May 31, 2011, this means that, at the very least, the DOJ has allowed an admitted serial viewer of pornography – possibly child pornography – to serve as an AUSA for two months, if not longer, and has yet to take action," Grassley wrote to Holder.
A Justice Department spokeswoman acknowledged that the prosecutor left federal service in May. It is unknown which U.S. Attorney's office the prosecutors worked in, but DOJ asserts that prosecutors from a different U.S. Attorney's office looked at the case.
"As a general practice, when there are criminal allegations of misconduct involving an Assistant U.S. Attorney, those matters are sent to a different office to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. The Department took immediate and appropriate action in this case and the AUSA ceased working in the district in late April 2011 and left Federal Service in early May 2011," the spokeswoman said.
Grassley has asked Holder if the prosecutor is eligible to receive a government pension, how he evaded pornography filters on the DOJ computer system and if the Department's filters were being updated.
The Justice Department has declined to provide additional information to Grassley and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had requested information from all U.S. agency inspector generals about closed cases that had not been made public. The Justice Department Office of the Inspector General declined to provide a full copy of the report, or the identity or the district where the assistant U.S. attorney was assigned.
Ironically, it is the Justice Department that enforces laws against obscenity and child pornography with the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). CEOS' website even notes, "CEOS works to deter the production, distribution and possession of child pornography by aggressively investigating and prosecuting of these crimes."
A previous investigation by Grassley into employees at the Securities Exchange Commission found that more than 30 employees had been viewing large amounts of pornography.