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Top TSA Officials in Cheating Scandal Also Ran Private Consulting Firm

Annie Jacobsen uncovers the latest embarrassment at TSA: top officials breaking federal rules by running a private consulting firm while they work for the government.

by
Annie Jacobsen

Bio

March 15, 2008 - 1:00 am

Most top-salaried government officials remain anonymous suits behind the scenes — unless they get caught in a scandal. The name Mike Restovich became public last fall when the security operations assistant administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was caught encouraging colleagues to cheat on covert bomb detection tests being performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Congress ordered hearings. TSA chief Kip Hawley and Mike Restovich were both ordered to testify, but only Hawley showed up. Restovich was removed from his position and sent overseas to work as “DHS attaché to the United Kingdom.”

“When we have TSA management tipping off airport security officials about covert testing, we have a credibility and accountability problem,” Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson told fellow members of Congress.

But that’s not all.

PJ Media has learned that Michael “Mike” Restovich and fellow TSA senior executive Morris “Mo” McGowan ran a private security consulting company while working as high-ranking officials with TSA. Their company, Group 2M Consulting, LLC, was filed with the office of the secretary of state of Texas on April 15, 2004, a copy of which can be downloaded here:

At the time, Mike Restovich was the federal security director of Dallas Love Field Airport. Morris “Mo” McGowan was the assistant federal security director.

Both men held then, and apparently continue to hold now, top secret security clearances with the U.S. government. Consulting in the private sector simultaneously is in direct conflict with federal policy and specifically prohibited by two statutes of Department of Homeland Security employment contracts, a copy of which was obtained by PJ Media (available here, with the relevant paragraphs highlighted in yellow)

At TSA, the two men have followed similar career trajectories, first working together as officials at Dallas Love Field and later being promoted to work at TSA headquarters. Morris “Mo” McGowan took Restovich’s place as security operations chief after the cheating scandal broke.

When asked to answer questions for Congress about why he and other TSA brass were “try[ing] to ‘cheat’ its way through its mid-term exams,” Restovich did not show up and was instead dispatched overseas. TSA would neither confirm nor deny if in his new role as DHS attaché, Mike Restovich is a government employee receiving a salary and benefits, or if he is a paid consultant.

In the online business networking group LinkedIn, Mike Restovich is listed as “DHS attaché to United Kingdom” and also as “general partner with Group 2M (security and investigations industry).” In his online biography, his tenure as a senior field executive with Homeland Security is listed as having ended in 2007.

In 2006, Mike Restovich was awarded the Silver Medal by DHS Secretary Chertoff, “in recognition of his integrity, patriotism, and empowered leadership.”

PJ Media contacted DHS to see if Secretary Chertoff was aware of Mike Restovich’s private security consulting business, Group 2M Consulting, when he awarded him the Silver Medal. DHS spokesperson Laura Keehner declined to provide any further information on the matter.

TSA deputy chief counsel Elizabeth Buchanan initially agreed to be interviewed for this report but later canceled that interview. TSA’s Office of Public Affairs declined to provide further information on Mike Restovich, Morris “Mo” McGowen, or the security consulting company the two men formed while working as TSA officials.

In 2006, Morris “Mo” McGowan was the recipient of the TSA Leadership Award.

Annie Jacobsen writes about aviation security and homeland security for a variety of newspapers, magazines and blogs. She is the author of the book, Terror in The Skies, Why 9/11 Could Happen Again.

Annie Jacobsen writes the "Backstory" blog (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/back-story/) for the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
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