David Weber, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission internal watchdog who was put on leave after co-workers accused him of being a security threat, has been fired by the agency, his lawyer said.
Weber, who was chief investigator in the inspector general’s office, raised allegations in March that H. David Kotz, the agency’s former inspector general, may have had personal relationships that tainted reports on the SEC’s failure to catch the Bernard Madoff and R. Allen Stanford Ponzi schemes.
Weeks later, a number of Weber’s co-workers submitted complaints that he was creating a hostile work environment through his suggestions that he and others should be able to carry guns on the job. The SEC used an external security consultant to review whether Weber was a threat and then placed him on administrative leave in May.
Weber also reported to the SEC that he found evidence of possible espionage by foreign nationals related to a case he was investigating. The matter involved unencrypted computer hard drives that contained sensitive stock exchange information.
Cary Hansel, Weber’s lawyer, said that Weber received a letter from the SEC last week informing him he had been fired.
“We believe he was terminated in advance of what amounts to a whitewash of the allegations he brought forward,” said Hansel, a partner at the Joseph, Greenwald & Laake law firm. He said Weber plans to contest his firing in a lawsuit that also would detail allegations he raised about poor computer security and data breaches at the agency.
John Nester, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment.
Weber’s original complaints prompted the SEC to bring in David Williams, the inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service, to conduct a review. Williams concluded that Kotz violated ethics rules by overseeing probes that involved people with whom he has “personal relationships.” Kotz resigned in January amid questions about his tactics and conduct.
Williams also said in his report that he didn’t find any evidence that indicated Weber’s conduct was improper or raised security concerns. Based on the report, Weber asked the SEC to reinstate him.
Weber, Hansel said, is in the process of opening a law firm with his wife that will represent federal government whistle-blowers.