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DEA Chief Under Fire at Oversight Hearing

Republican lawmakers pressed U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief Anne Milgram to justify why her agency spent millions on no-bid contracts to hire her cronies, the Associated Press reports. The House Appropriations Committee is conducting a watchdog probe over an Associated Press investigation showing that the DEA spent $4.7 million on “strategic planning and communication” and other no-bid contracts to hire people — at costs far exceeding pay for government officials — whom Milgram knew from her days as New Jersey’s attorney general and as a New York University law professor. “Everyone is afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But these reports are pretty strong,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia. Added Rep. Mike Garcia of California: “To make the assertion that you’re doing this job well, or getting the job done, is frankly flagrant and offensive. I don’t think you’re doing a good job."

Milgram said she welcomes the scrutiny from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General on some sole-source contracts signed since she took over the DEA nearly two years ago. But she refused to address the allegations in the AP report, or whether she was a target of the watchdog probe. “The inspector general is conducting an administrative review into some DEA contracts, which I welcome, and I’m not going to step in front of the inspector general or speak more about it while that review is continuing,” she said. “Does that mean you’re taking the Fifth?” replied Clyde. “No sir,” she answered. Among the contracts being scrutinized by the Inspector General is $1.4 million to a Washington law firm for a recent review of the DEA’s scandal-plagued foreign operations that was widely criticized for giving short shrift to agent misconduct and how to prevent it. That review was co-authored by Boyd Johnson, former right-hand man to one of Milgram’s closest friends, Preet Bharara, when he was U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. Bharara himself landed at the firm, WilmerHale, even as the review was being conducted.


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