Investigation of FEMA chief Brock Long's lengthy commutes reportedly referred to federal prosecutors

Brock Long.
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has referred an internal investigation into Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long's frequent commutes to North Carolina to federal prosecutors for possible criminal charges, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the investigation. Long and two other FEMA employees may have broken as many as six laws by traveling from Washington, D.C., to Long's home in Hickory, North Carolina, in a caravan of government vehicles.

The aides who traveled the 400 miles with Long for his long weekends at home stayed in hotels, at taxpayer expense, the inspector general's office found. Long has spent about 150 days in North Carolina since becoming FEMA administrator in June 2017, the Journal reports, and he continued his government-subsidized commute after DHS lawyers warned him it was illegal last year, prompting the inspector general's office to put him under surveillance. There are strict federal laws about use of government travel because "it's simply too tempting to use government resources for personal commuting," explains Norm Eisen, ethics lawyer for former President Barack Obama.

Long, who says he is cooperating with he DHS investigation, told CBS News on Sunday that he was authorized to commute home with aides because the FEMA chief has to follow a presidential directive to ensure continuation of federal services at all times, which entails access to secure communications. Former FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate tells the Journal he drove home to Florida in his own car by himself, with planned stops along the route if he needed secure communications.

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The White House was prepared to fire Long after getting the inspector general's preliminary report, the Journal reports, but the looming Hurricane Florence helped Long keep his job, for now. He seems prepared for a career shift, the Journal notes, because "the inspector general is also reviewing communications between Mr. Long and a FEMA contractor that appear to include discussions about future employment."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.