Sat. May 18th, 2024

Ousted federal election official gave himself a pay raise and misused funds for Harvard classes, watchdog says

By 37ci3 Apr24,2024



Faced with another controversy presidential election yearThe bipartisan federal commission tasked with strengthening election security across the country quietly confirmed in January that the third executive director in as many years had left the agency.

Now, a recently released summary of the government watchdog’s investigation shows why.

Steven M. Fried, former executive director United States Election Assistance Commissionwas fired late last year after giving himself a big raise and spending taxpayer money on leadership classes at Harvard University without approval, the inspector general’s report found.

According to the inspector general, “Fried improperly sought and received an annual increase of $31,450 in his salary without the knowledge of his supervisors, the EAC Commissioners.” summary of the investigationDated April 5 and made public on Thursday.

Fried, who was making $172,100 a year until the time of her raise, was able to give herself a raise by “applying for and receiving ‘critical pay’ authorization from the Office of Personnel Management,” without her superiors’ knowledge. states.

The investigation also found that Fried enrolled in three leadership courses at Harvard last summer, at a cost to the agency of $28,300, without first getting the proper approval from commissioners. Fried also failed to report 96 hours of vacation and other days off last year.

Fried, 41, did not immediately return a message from NBC News on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the EAC said Tuesday afternoon that she would return a request for comment to commission officials, but the agency did not comment on the investigation over hours.

Created in 2002 by the American Voting Act, which arose out of the “suspended chad” controversy during the 2000 presidential election, the AAC provides funds and other assistance to state election offices to improve the administration and security of federal elections.

controls AAK four commissioners nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump each successfully nominated two commissioners who are still serving.

The four commissioners supervise the agency’s executive director, who oversees 75 other full-time staff members and an annual budget of $27.7 million this year. The agency has experienced significant turnover in senior staff in recent years.

In initial news Regarding Fried’s departure, AAK did not disclose the reason for his departure from the agency.

Commissioners voted unanimously to fire Fried on Dec. 27 after the EAC inspector general briefed them on the status of the investigation into allegations surrounding Fried, according to a summary released last week. The findings, which revealed no evidence that Fried made false statements when she applied for approval to raise her own pay, were referred to the Justice Department, which “declined to pursue the matter,” the summary said.

Fried, who served less than a year in the top job, previously worked at several federal agencies, including the Department of Education and the Secret Service.

Fried’s job status on Tuesday was listed as “#OPENTOWORK,” according to Fried’s LinkedIn profile — which cites an executive leadership certificate he earned from Harvard last year among his educational accomplishments.



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