Ethics group seeks investigation of recently resigned federal railroad official

By: Michael Laris and Luz Lazo, The Washington Post, February 13, 2018

An ethics group submitted a letter to the Department of Justice on Tuesday requesting that it launch an investigation of Heath Hall, the former deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration who resigned over the weekend after allegations were raised about “outside work” he took on while employed as a senior federal official.

Later Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Ronald L. Batory as the agency’s administrator, ending a months-long standoff with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) that had left the nation’s rail safety organization without its top leader. Batory is a longtime railroad executive who is well regarded by safety advocates. Schumer had put a hold on the nomination in a conflict over the funding and future of the Gateway Program, a major rail improvement project in the New York area.

In recent weeks, questions had emerged concerning the railroad administration’s number two official. The Campaign for Accountability said in its letter Tuesday that the Transportation Department should seek to determine whether Hall “violated federal criminal law by willfully filing a public financial disclosure report in which he falsely claimed he would not be receiving outside income.”

The group said Strategic Marketing Group, the public relations firm where Hall served as president, had continued to receive thousands of dollars in payments while Hall was a senior official in the rail safety agency.

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