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EPA Received Complaint From Employee Calling Donald Trump a 'Fucking Fascist,' Documents Reveal

Someone called the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General and let loose.

by Sarah Emerson
Apr 10 2017, 5:40pm

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

President Trump has done everything within his limits to keep federal employees from talking—to the press, to Congress, and on social media. But despite personally intimidating government workers in some cases, Trump hasn't totally stopped them from airing their grievances.

Records obtained by Motherboard using a Freedom of Information Act request show a side of government unrest we've yet to see in public. It's cathartic. It's refreshing. And it's full of expletives.

Below is a phone call made to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) by someone claiming to be a federal employee. The official complaint was submitted through the OIG's telephone hotline, just four days after Trump's inauguration. An investigation was never opened into the complaint.

"I have a complaint to file that we are being run by a fucking fascist," they said.

Currently, 73 government agencies have OIG departments. The first divisions were established in 1976 "to promote economy and efficiency, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse." The mission of Inspector General offices is to behave like independent oversight committees to which employees can report all manner of misconduct, such gross mismanagement. The EPA's OIG hotline is staffed by federal law enforcement agents.

EPA employees can report issues anonymously. But if they want their complaints investigated, the OIG advises them to use their real names, like this person appears to have done. OIG divisions also invoke the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, which protects staff from retaliation when reporting specific types of disclosures. Something like an abuse of authority would fall under this law.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the EPA's Inspector General office said that complaints about administrations or administrators alleged without "specific allegations" are generally forwarded to the agency's Office of Public Affairs. So, unless detailed evidence is provided, investigators can't evaluate the claim of whether the president is a "fucking fascist."

It's also unclear whether this person works at the EPA or another agency, and we weren't able to independently verify that information. However, not all calls to the OIG hotline escalate to the point of having their own individual investigations. The individual's name was redacted under the FOIA exemptions (b)(6) and (b)(7)(C), which are designed to protect the identity and privacy of a person.

The department's purview isn't always so cut and dry. After EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt made scientifically inaccurate remarks about climate change last month, the Sierra Club asked the EPA's OIG to investigate whether Pruitt had violated the agency's Scientific Integrity Policy. (This policy was enacted during the Obama administration to ensure that only "sound science" was informing the agency's policymaking.) The office said it would defer to the EPA's Scientific Integrity Official, and would only open an inquiry based on their findings.

Some inspectors general, such as the EPA's Arthur A. Elkins Jr., are Presidentially appointed, while others are designated by their agency heads. Elkins was confirmed by President Obama in 2010, and can only be removed under the authorization of Trump.

The president has yet to appoint any OIG leaders. But there were rumors of him wanting to replace each and every one of them earlier this year. If Trump does pick his own inspectors general, we can probably expect little sympathy for rants like this.

If you are the person who made this complaint, we'd like to hear from you! Email us at sarah.emerson@vice.com.

This story has been updated to include a comment from the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General. We've also corrected previous statements that this complaint resulted in an investigation. It did not.