By CONOR FINNEGAN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — After fewer than three months on the job, the State Department’s acting inspector general has resigned in another major shake-up of the watchdog office, ABC News has confirmed.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the previous inspector general fired in May, calling him a “bad actor” amid probes into Pompeo and other department leaders.
Stephen Akard, a longtime aide to Vice President Mike Pence, became acting IG in May after Steve Linick, a career civil servant, was fired.
Akard “has announced he is returning to the private sector after years of public service. We appreciate his dedication to the Department and to our country,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News Wednesday.
A Trump appointee, Akard had been serving as director of the Office of Foreign Missions. After becoming acting IG, Akard said he would “not exercise the authorities or duties” of director and would recuse himself from any investigation involving the Office of Foreign Missions, “matters I worked on, in a substantive way,” and individuals he knows personally.
That was not enough to quell Democratic lawmakers’ concerns about a conflict of interest.
Inspectors general are independent federal watchdogs assigned to different agencies and tasked with investigating corruption, malfeasance, and waste. The State Department Office of Insepctor General was investigating Pompeo and other senior officials for the department’s use of an emergency authority to bypass Congress and sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Pompeo and his wife’s use of staff to run personal errands.
House Democrats have been probing Linick’s firing — issuing new subpoenas on Monday for four State Department officials to testify about why Linick was ousted. Akard was not among the recipients, although his resignation may make him available to speak to the committee now.
Akard had told his staff he had been approached about becoming acting IG in April, weeks before Linick was formally notified of his firing, ABC News reported in June.
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