Ethics group seeks investigation of recently resigned federal railroad official

Tuesday , February 13, 2018 - 10:25 AM

Michael Laris and Luz Lazo

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON - An ethics group submitted a letter to the Department of Justice on Tuesday requesting that it launch an investigation of Heath Hall, the former deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration who resigned over the weekend after allegations were raised about “outside work” he took on while employed as a senior federal official.

The Campaign for Accountability said the department should determine whether Hall “violated federal criminal law by willfully filing a public financial disclosure report in which he falsely claimed he would not be receiving outside income.”

The group said Strategic Marketing Group, the public relations firm where Hall served as president, had continued to receive thousands of dollars in payments while Hall was a senior official in the rail safety agency.

In his July financial disclosure form, Hall called Strategic Marketing Group an “individually owned consulting business that will remain dormant during Federal service.”

In August, Hall was quoted by Mississippi television station WJTV as a representative of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.

The Campaign for Accountability wrote that “no employee appointed by the president to a full-time noncareer position in the executive branch is permitted to receive earned income for outside employment. If, however, Mr. Hall was part of the senior executive service, there are some circumstances under which he would have been permitted to receive some income from outside employment.”

The group said it repeatedly asked federal officials for public salary data on Hall to clarify whether he broke the law but the information has not been provided.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said she would inquire about the letter. A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, who said Saturday that the allegations of outside work would be disturbing if true, did not respond to questions on what inquiries it has made on the matter. Hall did not respond to requests for comment.

A Transportation Department spokesman said last Wednesday that Hall had requested a leave of absence in January “so that he could address an urgent family matter.”