J. Robert Flores, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during the Bush administration, broke federal ethics and contracting rules when he used ideological considerations in awarding more than $250,000 in sole-source contracts, said a report released by the the DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine today.
The IG did not refer the case to prosecutors for further action against Flores. The report found he subcontracted work to Hector Rene Fonseca, a former Colombian military official, for Aspen SystemslLockheed Martin and later DB Consulting on anti-gang programs from November 2004 to July 2007. The report, however, said Flores broke rules when he only considered Fonseca for a position primarily because of his work on the faith-based group Samaritan’s Purse.
“The position was not open to competition and there was no justification for Fonseca being considered as a ’sole source’ uniquely qualified for the position,” the report said. “Indeed, an earlier request by Flores to hire Fonseca directly as the ’sole source’ was denied by the Office of the [Assistant Attorny General] for [Office of Justice Programs].”
Fonseca was tasked with such responsibilities as conference planning, writing and editing while he was subcontracted. But witnesses interviewed by the IG said they “did not know what Fonseca did for OJJDP and could not point to any benefit to OJJDP programs from Fonseca’s work.”
The DOJ Inspector General found “documentation of Fonseca’s work was not sufficient,” but “Fonseca’s contract was [not] a misuse of OJJDP funds.”
“Flores told the OIG that he did not hire Fonseca to write great reports but rather for the work he could do to further the faith-based initiative,” the report said. “Flores added that he attributed any deficiencies in Fonseca’s reports to Fonseca’s possible difficulties with the English language.”
DOJ Inspector General also investigated the grants Flores and then-Assistant Attorney General for Justice Programs Regina Schofield gave to various organizations including the World Golf Foundation’s First Tee Initiative, which has connections to Republicans including former president George H. W. Bush, its honorary chair. The DOJ Inspector General, however, could not determine whether these grants were improperly awarded because there was little documentation regarding the award allocations.
“We were pleased that the OIG concluded its investigation without any further action to be taken with respect to Mr. Flores,” wrote Flores’s attorney Elliot S. Berke, in a letter to the DOJ Inspector General. “We were also pleased to learn that the majority of allegations were determined to be unsubstantiated.”