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December 6, 2012

Demand for fishery abuse report gains steam

Republican Paul Broun, chairman of a U.S. House Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, added his written request Thursday to one made a day earlier by Democratic Sen. John Kerry that the Commerce Department make public the second volume of case reports into alleged abuses on the part of NOAA Fisheries law enforcement authority against fishermen.

The 66-case study, which reportedly runs more than 500 pages, with recommendations by the author — special judicial investigator Charles B. Swartwood III — was submitted in final form eight months ago.

The chairman of the subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Broun also asked Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank for “a complete and unredacted” copy of the original Swartwood report into fisheries law enforcement abuses, which was released in redacted form in May 2011. Swartwood’s first report required barely a month to review and redact before its release.

Blank’s communications office did not respond to multiple requests Thursday for comment on the letters from Kerry and Broun.

Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank and William Keating previously and repeatedly have criticized the government for failing to release the second Swartwood report.

Referring to unauthorized budgetary manipulation at NOAA’s National Weather Service, manipulation of the procurement process by NOAA fisheries agents in Seattle to get a $300,000 luxury undercover boat for pleasure cruising, the mass shredding of documents from the office the then-director of law enforcement, and NOAA’s refusal to respond to requests dating to last April for travel records of NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and a number of her top aides, Broun wrote of his concern that “of late, it appears that personnel issues at the (NOAA) seem to be commonplace.

“Yet, it is unclear to what extent, or in some cases, if at all NOAA reprimands its employees,” Broun wrote.

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