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More Government Officials Behaving Badly: Ethics Scandal at Treasury

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It's the summer of scandals and the latest to surface is at the U.S. Treasury Department. Recently published documents show that some employees have been abusing their government responsibilities.

A handful of officials who worked for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (formerly the Office of Thrift Supervision) were caught "soliciting prostitutes, breaking conflict-of-interest rules and accepting gifts from corporate executives, according to the findings of official government investigations," reported The Hill's Managing Editor Bob Cusack on Monday.

It is very rare for these types of personnel issues to be released publicly. But documents highlighting the unethical behavior were released under the Freedom of Information Act request and published on governmentattic.org. All names involved in the misconduct were redacted.

The records show a member of OTS "misused" government resources to troll the web for sex and solicited prostitutes using Craigslist.

"Clearly, I think a lot of people would expect more from their government than surfing the web for prostitutes, especially on the government's dime," says Cusack in the accompanying video.

Perhaps more galling is another employee who accepted golf fees and meals from the same bank executives he or she was supposed to be regulating. This person did receive ethics training but was under the impression that playing golf with bank employees was acceptable, according to Cusack.

These instances of unethical behavior are "serious breaches of Treasury policy" says Cusack. But he does not believe it is a systemic problem at the government agency.

This misconduct follows the scandals involving the Government Service Administration spending lavishly at a Las Vegas convention and members of the Secret Service paying for prostitutes overseas.

While the Treasury scandal may not be as sordid as the other scandals, it will still be embarrassing for President Obama and his administration -- especially as the president focuses on his reelection campaign, adds Cusack.

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