March 19, 2005

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Been Berry, Berry Good To Me

Wouldn't it be better to just put an end this little fiefdom?

Deeply in the red, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted yesterday to conduct an audit of how it has spent its $9 million annual budget over the past several years.

The meeting came a day after commission Staff Director Kenneth L. Marcus told a congressional subcommittee that the agency had failed to pay $75,000 in rent last year and that employees who won an equal opportunity complaint against the agency had not received the $188,000 partial payment owed them.

Marcus had more bad news yesterday, saying that the commission was more than likely underfunding its employee benefits package, and that budget shortfalls would force the board to consider a significant number of layoffs as it undertakes reforms recommended by the Government Accountability Office.

Commissioners said they had been kept in the dark on financial problems by former staff director Les Jin and the panel's former chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry. Two commissioners, Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds and Peter N. Kirsanow, asked Marcus whether he had uncovered any evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing. Marcus said he had not.

But commissioners were upset that the agency's acting budget director, George Harbison, had not seen its ledger of income and expenses for the past year. It was last known to be in Jin's possession, Harbison said.

"If a private company didn't have a ledger, then somebody goes to jail," Reynolds said.

Someone would go to jail. Ha, good one.

Posted by Charles Austin at March 19, 2005 07:38 PM