DOJ Watchdog Investigates DEA Chief over ‘Swampy’ Contracts to Past Associates

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. Photo: DEA.

By Steve Neavling

DEA chief Anne Milgram is under investigation for allegedly doling out more than $4.7 million in no-bid contracts to hire her past associates, the Associated Press reports

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is leading the investigation into the contracts, which led to the hiring of at least a dozen people who were paid far more than government officials receive. 

The contract hires, which include some in Milgram’s inner circle handling intelligence, data analytics, community outreach and public relations, involve work that requires security clearances and is typically done by the DEA’s own workforce. 

The DOJ watchdog is also investigating $1.4 million to a Washington law firm that was tasked with reviewing the DEA’s foreign operations. The review, co-authored by Boyd Johnson, former right-hand man to one of Milgram’s closest friends, Preet Bharara, when he was U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, has been criticized as overly vague

“Some of these deals look very swampy,” Scott Amey, general counsel of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, told the AP. 

Amey added, “Contracts should never be awarded based on who you know.”

The Inspector General investigation began several months ago following employee complaints. 

The DEA declined to comment on the investigation or the contracts. 

“DEA has acted with urgency to set a new vision, target the global criminal networks responsible for hundreds of thousands of American deaths, raise public awareness about how just one pill can kill, and promote and recruit hundreds of highly talented people,” the agency said. “These changes have been made through an extensive and multi-part process, and we are committed to ensuring that DEA is working relentlessly to protect the national security, safety, and health of the American people.”

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