Vote of 'no confidence' for KCMO Homeland Security leader, lawmakers urge further investigation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There is more fallout from a controversy involving a high-ranking Homeland Security official who helped award a quarter-million dollar government contract to his next-door neighbor in Leawood, Kan.

Union members and congressional leaders sent strongly-worded letters to the Department of Homeland Security, a reaction to details uncovered by a 41 Action News investigation in November.

The issue surrounds David Olson, a regional director with the Federal Protective Service (FPS) in Kansas City, and the perceived lack of punishment he received for his role in the questionable contract for $257,000 of security equipment that has never been used by the agency.

The union representing about 800 FPS employees recently took a vote on December 10, indicating members have a collective "no confidence" in Olson's leadership.

We obtained a copy of the letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson from David Wright, the president of AFGE Local 918.

"This determination reflects our unified opinion that his professionalism and honor have been tainted to such a degree as to render him as ineffective to continue to serve in that senior law enforcement management position," the letter read.

Wright told 41 Action News the letter is a rare step in his 12-year career as a union leader. It also questioned Olson's honesty during an internal investigation and said the issue has affected morale within the federal agency.

"This has the effect of making the employees aware there is a caste system in place, which emphasizes a ‘do as I say, not as I do' philosophy," the letter said.

Wright acknowledged the letter is more of a symbolic maneuver and doesn't require a response from leadership within Homeland Security.

However, a separate letter from the House Committee on Homeland Security requested answers to a list of questions about the controversy.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a ranking member on the committee, sent a letter to FPS Director Eric Patterson in late December. The letter asked why FPS did not further investigate the allegations against Olson and why it didn't issue a stricter punishment. As previously reported, the proposed discipline was negotiated down to a three-day suspension, deferred for two years.

According to the letter, Patterson informed congressional staff in November he did not have the authority to order further review beyond what an Inspector General's report found. But Thompson's letter insisted that response was not accurate.

"I am writing to urge you to reconsider the disciplinary actions taken thus far," the letter said. "I would urge you to request an additional investigation of the Regional Director's actions."

Thompson's letter asked for written responses to several questions by January 17.

A spokeswoman for FPS, which provides security at more than 9,000 federal buildings around the country, said Thompson would receive answers to his questions.

"FPS is committed to carrying out its mission while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and has no tolerance for waste, fraud or abuse among its personnel and will respond directly to requests from members of Congress," Jacqueline Yost told 41 Action News.

Thompson's sternly-worded letter comes in the wake of other reaction from Missouri lawmakers.

Immediately after the story aired, Rep. Sam Graves told 41 Action News he was checking to see if the bidding process violated federal rules. Senator Claire McCaskill later issued a letter to suggest ethics and procurement training for the agency.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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