According to a newly published investigation, a high-ranking Obama appointee misused taxpayer money to pay for cab rides and frivolous credit card spending.
Vikrum Aiyer was a former senior adviser on Obama’s House National Economic Council who worked at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during the Obama administration.
According to an investigative report published this month, titled Investigation into Misuse of Agency Transportation Account and Other Improprieties by a Political Appointee, Aiyer used government funds to pay for 130 taxi rides and spent $15,000 for unauthorized purchases.
Aiyer claimed that to his understanding, using government credit cards to pay for cab rides was commonplace. Whether or not other Obama-era officials likewise squandered taxpayer dollars for personal use, investigators determined that Aiyer misled the federal government concerning his spending habits.
The Daily Caller reports:
While working at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Vikrum Aiyer, a former senior adviser on Obama’s White House National Economic Council, used government funds for 130 taxi rides over a two-year period against agency rules, and rang up a total of more than $15,000 in unauthorized purchases on his government credit card, the Inspector General (OIG) found.
The OIG’s report does not mention any specific agency personnel, but The Washington Post identified Aiyer as the “political appointee” who misused the credit card and rang up thousands of dollars in cab fares while assisting the patent office in managing a $3.4 billion budget.
When Aiyer would submit documentation for his unauthorized cab rides, he almost always “identified another Agency employee as the passenger” and would sometime use “fictitious names or the names of former employees” to obfuscate his role. One person Aiyer would impersonate was eventually contacted by supervisors
When investigators interviewed Aiyer, he explained that he learned this process of using the cabs for early morning meetings (any meeting scheduled before 9:00 a.m.) from two other agency officials.
“My understanding was, in terms of, ah, early morning and later departure, um, in the way that I saw [Agency Official D] use it, um, and in terms of conference with others, that [the Agency Cab Company account] was…copasetic to use,” Aiyer said, according to the OIG report. The agency official Aiyer mentioned denied that he would ever put someone else’s name on a taxi fare reimbursement document or make the government pay for day-to-day transportation.
Investigators determined that Aiyer knowingly misled the government for his cab fares. “The evidence … establishes that Political Appointee knowingly used the Agency’s Cab Company account for impermissible purposes on a routine basis and that he took steps to conceal his unauthorized use of this account by providing false names and false location information,” investigators for Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson wrote.
The OIG determined that Aiyer “charged more than $4,000 to the Agency’s Cab Company account for the unauthorized cab trips that he took” and “engaged in other improper conduct as well,” including lying on his resumes about his education in order to attain appointments.
According to the report, Aiyer was seemingly reprimanded for breaking policy concerning spending on his government-issued credit card, but continued to squander taxpayer funds “even after making representations to the Agency that he would improve his compliance with these rules and policies.”
Was Aiyer just a bad apple, or is he only one example of rampant misuse of funds during Obama’s presidency?
Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments below.