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There is no confusion -- lack of candor is a serious charge

Watergate has been the most famous political scandal of the last 50 years, and the only one that resulted in the resignation of the president. The teaching lesson of Watergate has been that it was the lying and the cover-up that ended the Nixon presidency.

And that should serve as an example, warning all federal employees that because they owe a duty of candor to their agency, when they make mistakes or violate a standard, the lying about the incident can be more serious than the underlying offense.

A case involving an administrative officer from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) highlights this issue. The employee had been charged with a DUI and hit-and-run. He claimed when asked by his supervisor about the incident that it was his stepson who had been charged.

Later, after additional investigation, it was shown that the employee had, in fact, been the one charged with the DUI and hit-and-run. A removal action commenced on the lack of candor charge.

Additionally, because his license had been suspended, and he occasionally checked out and operated government vehicles, he was charged with misuse of a government vehicle.

His removal was upheld by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and a subsequent case in federal court.

The court found his claims of confusion due to his alcoholism to be unpersuasive. His attempt to cover-up his initial incident with the DUI cost him his job, and if your federal job entails driving government vehicles or a security clearance, you should speak with an attorney immediately upon being charged with a DUI.

As more records become electronically searchable, your odds of hiding such a charge become less likely, and attempts to cover-up such information could lead to the very serious charge of lack of candor, and your eventual removal.

Fedsmith.com, "'Confused and in a Fog' or Lack of Candor?" Susan McGuire Smith, January 27, 2015

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