Top Biden DHS official faces ethics complaint over potentially illegal Twitter post

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Members of the House and Senate had requested appropriators defund the extra documents, but their attempts were denied. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Manuel Balce Ceneta

Top Biden DHS official faces ethics complaint over potentially illegal Twitter post

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EXCLUSIVE — A top official in President Joe Biden‘s Department of Homeland Security is being hit with an ethics complaint over a social media post that a watchdog group says warrants a federal investigation.

Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the DHS, posted a Tweet on Nov. 27 that promoted a 2022 book called Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency by Wired reporter Andy Greenberg. Now, the DHS should investigate Easterly for possibly “violating” ethics rules since federal officials are barred from endorsing “any product, service, or enterprise” through their official “position or title,” alleged Protect the Public’s Trust in a Tuesday complaint to the agency that was obtained by the Washington Examiner.

TOP BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL APPEARS TO HAVE ‘VIOLATED’ FEDERAL LAW, WATCHDOGS SAY

“This book was SOOO good,” wrote Easterly in the Tweet, which was sent from her official account and deleted on Nov. 29. “Thanks @a_greenberg for another highly compelling, entertaining, & illuminating read!”

PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told the Washington Examiner that “you don’t have to be a marketing genius” to see how Greenberg could reap the benefits of a book “endorsement” from a government agency or powerful government official like Easterly.

“With prior experience in government and as the director of an influential agency, which just happens to deal with misbehavior on the internet, Ms. Easterly should certainly have known that such a statement could be troublesome,” he said. “This is yet another example of why the American public’s trust in its government is at an all-time low.”

A government employee cannot use their title in a way intended “to coerce or induce another person, including a subordinate, to provide any benefit, financial or otherwise, to himself or to friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity,” according to federal rules.

In addition, officials are not allowed to use their role in a way “that could reasonably be construed to imply” that their agency is endorsing personal activities of themselves or others, rules say.

PPT and the Functional Government Initiative, another watchdog group, had told the Washington Examiner last Wednesday that it appears Easterly ran afoul of ethics regulations because of her tweet. The initiative’s spokesman, Pete McGinnis, said one would “think she’d be aware of these rules” given that CISA monitors “what Americans post on Twitter.”

“A tweet identifying Ms. Easterly’s position at CISA and lauding Mr. Greenberg’s works may have been reasonably perceived by her subordinates as reflecting her intent that they purchase Mr. Greenberg’s works and that such a purchase would be looked upon favorably by Ms. Easterly,” said PPT in its complaint.

“Additionally, the tone of the tweet contributes to the perception that Ms. Easterly’s activity was less suitable for the allocation of government resources than an off-duty exercise in promoting a personal friend, i.e., a very public ‘thanks’ sent directly to Mr. Greenberg as well as a link to his personal Twitter account,” the watchdog also said, requesting the DHS investigate “the extent of the friendship” between Easterly and Greenberg and whether Easterly’s subordinates thought they were being “induced or coerced into purchasing” Greenberg’s books.

PPT is also asking the DHS to investigate whether Easterly was advised by officials on how to avoid “an inherent appearance of a conflict of interest or endorsement of Mr. Greenberg’s work.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Prior to serving in CISA, Easterly was an employee at Morgan Stanley, a multinational financial services company.

Between 2011 to 2013, she was deputy director of former President Barack Obama’s National Security Agency for counterterrorism. Then, until 2016, Easterly became a special assistant to Obama and senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council, an agency based in the White House.

CISA and DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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