The FBI’s Former Director of the Office of Public Affairs and the Free Sports Tickets from CNN and the New York Times

Whilst the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was reviewing the conduct of James Comey in the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation during the 2016 election, the OIG ran across some additional e-mails that implicated another FBI official in conduct not related to the Clinton e-mails. One never knows where the truth will percolate or how it will emerge, but eager it does. The e-mails discovered serendipitously showed that the FBI’s former director of the Office of Public Affairs accepted two tickets to a professional sports game as a gift from a CNN correspondent who regularly covered the FBI and DOJ, in violation of federal regulations. In fact, there was a bit of a cultural problem at the FBI with agents participating in golfing outings with media representatives, being treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and attending “nonpublic social events” (parties in non-OIG language as the guests of journalists.

That kind of culture certainly explains why the OIG found significant media leaks from FBI employees to the media. They were all on the same team.

But back to the official, who has since been identified as Michael Kortan, the former director of the FBI Office of Public affairs who retired earlier this year. The OIG investigation found that Mr. Kortan accepted tickets from CNN and New York Times reporters. Here are some excerpts from the e-mail exchanges between Mr. Kortan and a CNN reporter:

CNN correspondent: “I have an extra ticket for tomorrow nights Nats game. Would you like to join?” adding, “Good seats.”

Kortan: “I’m in!”

CNN correspondent. “Great.”

Follow-up e-mails show that the two met for beers and then headed to the game. Cozy.

But there was more. Another e-mail exchange with the CNN correspondent (never identified in the report):

CNN correspondent: “Nats v Marlins Friday night. I have to be away. Can you use four tix?”

Kortan: “I’m good for 2 tix if that’s OK.”

Kortan took another FBI employee and had a full night with the $65 per ticket freebie.

Mr. Kortan initially told the OIG, under oath, that he had paid back the reporter. He had not because the OIG fond no messages documenting the repayment nor could Mr. Kortan produce any proof of repayment. Mr. Kortan was also not forthcoming when asked who used the other ticket. Eventually admitted that the ticket went to a young, female FBI employee. Mr. Kortan did go back to the OIG to say that he was mistaken about the repayment. The game was rained out and that he was told by the correspondent not to repay him. As long as he was cleaning that up, Ortan did confess to the tagging along of the female FBI employee. Mr. Kortan resigned prior to the conclusion of the investigation.

The DOJ declined to prosecute the case. Not sure what happen with Mr. Kortan. but General Michael Flynn awaits sentencing for allegedly “lying to the FBI.” Funny how agents seem aloof, not apologetic, when they are caught. Methinks that the FBI has a huge culture problem. Check the e-mails. Even FBI agents fancy them to be private.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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