FHFA watchdog faces investigation for misconduct

Accused of disparaging employees, attempting to intimidate witnesses

The top watchdog for the Federal Housing Finance Agency is facing investigation for misconduct after accusations surfaced that she purposefully weakened her office’s oversight.

FHFA Inspector General Laura Wertheimer is under investigation after allegedly disparaging employees and attempting to intimidate witnesses, according to an article by Lorraine Woellert and Katy O’Donnell for Politico.

Whistleblowers claim the activity began just after Wertheimer joined the bureau in 2014, and accuses her of allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their share in the mortgage market and experiment with new, riskier loans.

From the article:

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which oversees IGs across government agencies, launched the Wertheimer investigation in March after receiving employee whistleblower complaints and referral letters from two Senate committees. The Office of Special Counsel has conducted a similar probe.

But employees at the inspector general’s office were quick to come to Wertheimer’s defense during interviews Thursday. They rejected any claims that FHFA Director Mel Watt influenced their work, despite the complaints that claimed he threatened to cut her staff and budget due to critical reports he was unhappy with.

Her conduct surrounding her oversight of the government-sponsored enterprises isn’t the only thing under investigation. Her interactions with employees are also under investigation.

From the article:

It charged that she had illegally gossiped about an employee’s confidential Equal Employment Opportunity complaint, sought to root out whistleblowers on her staff, and “disparaged and demeaned” employees whom she believed were cooperating with investigators.

Recent leaks also show Watt is under a separate investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. He is being accused by an FHFA staffer of repeatedly making inappropriate sexual advances when she tried to discuss career and salary concerns.

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