Richmond Times-Dispatch: Investigation launched into why Virginia was passed up for FBI headquarters

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, LINDSAY WHITEHURST

A federal watchdog will investigate how the Biden administration chose a site for a new FBI headquarters following a contentious competition marked by allegations of conflict of interest.

The Inspector General for the General Services Administration is probing the decision to locate the facility in Greenbelt, Maryland, over a site in Springfield, Virginia, according to a letter released Thursday by Virginia lawmakers. The project would replace the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Consideration for a new headquarters has been discussed for more than a decade, and the states of Virginia and Maryland competed fiercely for the project. The announcement earlier this month choosing Maryland brought sharp criticism from Virginia.

Virginia’s senators and representatives said in a joint statement that there was evidence the process was influenced by political considerations and called on the GSA to pause anything related to the relocation until the review is complete.

The statement was released by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Morgan Griffith, Jen Kiggans, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott, Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton and Rob Wittman.

“Given the overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration administered a site selection process fouled by politics, we agree that an inspector general investigation is the appropriate next step,” the statement reads. “We applaud the inspector general for moving quickly and encourage him to move forward to complete a careful and thorough review. In the meantime, the GSA must pause all activities related to the relocation until the IG’s investigation is complete.”

Maryland lawmakers, on the other hand, said their state was chosen simply because it has the best site and the project would be moving forward.

“Any objective evaluation will find that the GSA arrived at this decision after a thorough and transparent process,” its leaders said in their own joint statement.

The news comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray told staff in an internal message earlier this month that he was concerned about a “potential conflict of interest” in a senior executive choosing a site owned by a previous employer.

GSA, which manages the government’s real estate portfolio, denied any conflict and said the Greenbelt site was chosen because it was cheapest and had the best access to public transit. The site is about 13 miles northeast of Washington.

Maryland and Virginia have long been vying to land the FBI. After the headquarters announcement was made, Warner urged an investigation.

“I had felt that this has been grossly political with efforts to try to change the criteria, but I was astounded when we found out that three career officials unanimously picked Virginia and a political appointee overturned it. Clearly, there needs to be an inspector general investigation,” he said.

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan earlier this month defended the selection and said the process was fair.

https://5bfe49f99fb0768b68c20e00425ae703.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html

“I am proud of the process that we ran. I stand behind the decision of our team, and of all the public servants who carefully followed that process and selected the site most advantageous to the government,” Carnahan told lawmakers on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability in a Nov. 14 testimony.

Recent Posts


Feb 29, 2024
Economy & Jobs

Spanberger Statement on Vote to Prevent Government Shutdown, Protect Virginia’s Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement after voting with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass a short-term, stopgap funding measure — known as a “continuing resolution” — to avoid a shutdown that would damage Virginia’s economy. The legislation includes two staggered deadlines to keep the federal […]



Feb 29, 2024
Press

During Black History Month, Spanberger Introduces Bill to Name Fredericksburg Post Office for Civil Rights Leader, Gladys P. Todd

Gladys P. Todd Was A Revered School Teacher, Voting Rights Advocate, & Community Organizer in Fredericksburg WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today introduced legislation to rename a Fredericksburg post office after Gladys P. Todd, a prominent leader in the Fredericksburg civil rights movement. Located at 1285 Emancipation Highway in Fredericksburg, the post office […]



Feb 28, 2024
Infrastructure

Spanberger Leads Virginia Lawmakers in Working to Protect $30 Internet Discount for Virginia Families, Fund Affordable Connectivity Program

The “Affordable Connectivity Program” Right Now Helps More than 455,000 Virginia Households Afford High-Speed Internet WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today led members of the Virginia congressional delegation in a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to extend funding for a key discount program that allows more Virginia families to […]