Inquiries Target Embattled State Official

By Justin Rood

Nov 17, 2007 6:26pm

Already facing a congressional investigation into the truthfulness of his testimony on Capitol Hill this week, the State Department’s embattled anti-fraud official faces separate inquiries into other concerns and allegations of wrongdoing, sources tell ABC News.

State Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard has been under fire from critics, including his former deputy and staff investigators, who say he has resisted investigating major State Department contractors, including the Blackwater private security firm.

A source close to the matter has confirmed the Office of Special Counsel is investigating Krongard because former employees say they were threatened after cooperating with congressional investigators examining their complaints.

Contacted by phone Friday, OSC spokesman Jim Mitchell said he could not comment on ongoing investigations.

A White House-run oversight board is also investigating Krongard’s work, sources say. At a briefing Thursday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters the State Department had asked the panel, formally known as the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, to review Krongard’s work.

Krongard’s personal lawyer, Barbara van Gelder, said Saturday she was aware of the PCIE probe but that Krongard himself has not been interviewed. She noted that she had yet to be contacted by the Office of Special Counsel regarding their investigations.

PCIE Integrity Committee chairman Kenneth Kaiser could not be reached for comment.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is investigating whether Krongard misled lawmakers at a hearing before Waxman’s committee Wednesday. At the hearing, Krongard appeared to contradict himself by first asserting he did not believe his brother, former top CIA official A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, was a member of Blackwater’s advisory board. Later in the hearing, Howard Krongard testified he called his brother during a break and that Buzzy told him for the first time that he was on Blackwater’s board. Howard then recused himself from any matters involving the company.

In a memo yesterday, Waxman wrote that in response to a committee inquiry, "Buzzy Krongard called the Committee staff and said that contrary to Howard Krongard’s testimony, he did tell his brother about his relationship with Blackwater" prior to his testimony. "The information from Buzzy Krongard raises serious questions about the veracity of Howard Krongard’s testimony before the Committee," Waxman wrote.

According to several news accounts, the two brothers are not close.

On Friday, Waxman announced plans to hold a separate hearing after Thanksgiving with testimony from both Krongard brothers.

Today, van Gelder released material to Waxman and the media supporting his version of events. The documents, a phone bill and handwritten notes, indicate Howard called Buzzy on Oct. 31 and the two spoke for 10 minutes. A page van Gelder purports to be Howard’s contemporaneous notes on the conversation appear to indicate Buzzy Krongard said he had no financial ties to Blackwater and would not take the board position he had been offered.

"No financial interest whatever," the alleged notes read. The word "no" is underlined. "Was on short list for Advisory Board but is not taking it," the document states.

"I would ask that this Committee not hold any additional hearings into this matter," van Gelder wrote in her letter to Waxman today. "There is no legitimate legislative purpose to be gained by publicly pitting two brothers against each other." Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. This post has been revised.

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