WASHINGTON — US taxpayer money «misused» by former Capitol architect Brett Blanton has been repaid to the federal government by withholding the amount of his final paycheck, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday.
in a letter Shared by Grassley, a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, acting Capitol Architect Chere Rexroat said in April that about $12,500 was withheld from Blanton’s final paycheck after he did not cooperate and paid the money himself. . The remaining amount, about $1,400, was contributed by an insurance company.
«When it comes to trillions of dollars in government spending, a dozen or more thousand may seem like a paltry amount. Yet this amount would be significant to a family struggling to make ends meet at a time of record inflation and price increases, Grassley said in remarks on the Senate floor.
The Republican senator recounted an inspector general report that found Blanton had engaged in «unauthorized use of vehicles, misrepresentation as a law enforcement officer, ethics violations, and ultimately, assignment violations.» Blanton had driven more than 29,000 miles using government vehicles instead of the roughly 10,000 allotted miles, according to the report.
«In total, the Inspector General identified $13,926 in inappropriate costs associated with Blanton’s use of government vehicles,» Grassley said Tuesday.
Grassley noted that had sent a letter to Blanton in February asking when he would return the money.
«As of today, more than two months later, he has not responded to my inquiry or my staff’s attempts to contact him,» Grassley said. «He has also made no effort to pay the money he owes the American people.»
As a result, Rexroat said more than $12,500 of Blanton’s final payment was withheld and returned to Treasury.
Blanton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In mid-February, President Joe Biden fired Blanton as Capitol Hill architect after the inspector general’s report revealed that he had abused his authority and embezzled taxpayer money in his role overseeing the Capitol complex. Since then, Rexroat has served on an interim basis.
Blanton could only be removed by the president because the architect of the Capitol is a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee. Blanton was nominated for a 10-year term by former President Donald Trump; he started the job in January 2020.