A watchdog report found acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan, while working for the FBI, violated federal ethics rules by seeking sponsors to buy alcohol for agency happy hours, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that Morgan continued asking for outside funding for the events even after he was told it was against federal rules, according to the paper.
The incidents occurred in 2015 when Morgan worked as deputy assistant director of the FBI’s training division. Morgan retired from the FBI and was named by then-President Obama as head of the Border Patrol midway through the investigation.
The report, which was never released publicly, said Morgan was determined to improve the FBI’s National Executive Institute training program, and believed happy hours in which participants were given alcohol and expensive food were essential to this.
Morgan and aides sought sponsorship from three groups for the events, according to the report: the National Executive Institute Associates, the National Academy Associates and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Only the latter declined, according to the Chronicle.
Morgan acknowledged he had seen written warnings that seeking the sponsorships was a rule violation but said “that’s an opinion. It’s rarely set in stone,” according to the newspaper.
“If there is a finding that we inappropriately solicited something, it’s absolutely on me,” he said.
The report did not make clear whether the Justice Department informed the White House or Department of Homeland Security about the open investigation, according to the newspaper.
The inspector general did not reach an official finding of misconduct until January 2018, during a period between Morgan’s ouster as Border Patrol head after President Trump’s inauguration and his appointment as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in May 2019.
During this period, Morgan, who was ousted amid Trump administration concerns that he was insufficiently committed to its immigration agenda, became a vocal defender of Trump on cable news.
The Hill has reached out to CBP for comment.