Table for One

Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.

Andrew McCabe purchased a $70,000 conference table while at the FBI. The purchase came to light in response to a Congressional request for documents as part of their investigation into the FBI. It might have gone unremarked had the FBI not tried to hide the purchase behind the cloak of classified information. Why would the FBI do that? Media-ignoring-Andrew-McCabe-conference-table/

Let’s apply Occam’s Razor to the situation as we know it. Occam’s Razor was first proposed by William of Ockham. It states when presented with competing  for hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions.

Could it be the FBI was covering up outright criminal behavior, such as money laundering, misappropriation of government funds, or the cover-up that followed? Law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI, DEA are awash in seized assets and funds. Much of that money is shared with state, county, and local agencies. There is a program, here as a PDF that explains how such funds are to be used:

The Department of Justice has stringent guidelines for the use and distribution of assets acquired under this program. In the most recent audit report, here is what they found:

Equitable Sharing Program Audit and Review Findings
October 1 9, 2 0 1 7
Department of Justice (DOJ) equitable sharing funds are subject to audit or review by independent auditors, the DOJ Office of Inspector General, and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section’s (MLARS) Compliance Review Team. Because there are approximately 6,500 participants in the Equitable Sharing Program, these audits have revealed problems that tend to arise in findings involving numerous agencies. We are sharing some of the common audit problems here to assist state and local law enforcement agencies
in their maintenance and use of sharing funds.

 Impermissible expenditures, such as the purchase of food and beverage, the purchase of equipment for other law enforcement agencies, and the use of equipment for non-official law enforcement purposes or by non-law enforcement personnel;
 Commingling of DOJ equitable sharing funds with other general or state forfeiture funds;
 Inability to track both revenues and expenditures from the DOJ equitable sharing account or account code;
 Incomplete or inadequate standard operating procedures or policies governing an agency’s equitable sharing funds;
 Failure to report or include equitable sharing funds on the jurisdiction’s annual single audit; and
 Failure to maintain records of items purchased with equitable sharing funds.

Granted the guidelines are directed at the state and locals but apply to the Federal Agencies in that they have to determine local eligibility for the award. Here is a hypothetical:

City A receives 10 million dollars as the result of a joint investigation with DEA. The City manager wants a new police station. He can use the asset forfeiture funds to build the police station. If he wants to make it a City Hall, Fire station and Police Station complex, then the funds are only available for the police station portion. He cannot use funds to create new positions. He can augment existing positions by giving incentive pay for assignment, specialization, and hazardous duty. The asset funds will pay for new furniture and office equipment, used for law enforcement purposes only. The asset fund will pay expenses related to law enforcement training, but not a Dale Carnegie course.

Knowing what I know about the FBI from working around them for thirty years. McCabe wanted a new conference table, one he could call his own. He put in for it and got turned down. Then one of the bright lights that he surrounded himself with said, I know where there are millions. We don’t have to go through the budget process, the table is as good as yours. They then went out and obtained the table using asset forfeiture funds.

This purchase is problematic. The purchase of furniture to support the law enforcement function is fine. How often is that likely to happen in the executive suite of FBI headquarters? Quick, somebody plug J Edgar Hoover into the power grid. He spinning rapidly enough now to replace all the dynamos at Hoover Dam.

Keep in mind what the two greatest investigators of all time always say:

World’s Greatest Detectives, Which one of these is not like the other, which one of these is not the same?

FOLLOW THE MONEY. If forfeited funds were used to purchase that conference table there will be a money trail. There will probably also be some discussion with the asset sharing folks at the FBI regarding the initial request and rejection. Those discussions should be enough to indicate the legitimacy of the conference table purchase.

Some pundits claim the FBI was trying to avoid embarrassment. Everything I’ve seen to this point says this crowd is incapable of embarrassment.  Maybe the FBI suddenly felt guilty about wasting taxpayer funds? If McCabe rated a conference room, chances are he already had a conference table. What happened to the old table?

In the old FBI ego and pride would have kept the bureaucrats away from the asset seizure funds. I could see the embarrassment in the body language of the line FBI agents every time they showed up at our office with a cardboard check. They didn’t realize that that money would purchase cars that ran and radios that could actually talk to somebody, something that was not always possible with our existing equipment.

In the new FBI, ego and pride is not represented by a spirit but by the stuff one manages to collect. Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity who needs that shit at the executive level of the FBI?