Our View

EPA man of mystery’s mystery was what he did

By From page A6 | September 17, 2013

The issue: Maybe a confident air will help both his health and his legal fate

This is the season of advice on how to get a job and how to get ahead in the job you already have.

Here are three tips from the files of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Foster an enigmatic image. Cultivate an aura of mystery. Always project great confidence.

ACCORDING TO The Washington Post, that facade worked for then-senior EPA official John C. Beale, 64, for 12 years, right until the moment it didn’t. Now he is facing up to three years in prison for allegedly taking nearly $900,000 in pay and bonuses from the agency that he didn’t earn and didn’t deserve.

Starting about 12 years ago, he began taking long absences, telling his bosses that he was engaged in important work for top-secret agencies, including the CIA.

Apparently what he was engaged in was extended vacations — in China, South Africa and England — something his trusting, not to say gullible, bosses never checked.

Apparently at one time he was pretty good at his job — when he bothered to do it. He has a master’s from Princeton, and, according to The Post, was “intimately involved” in the 1990 reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, and coordinated climate-change activities at a senior level during the George W. Bush administration. (That couldn’t have been much fun because it was an article of faith among some of the Bush true believers that climate change was a hoax.)

Toward the end of his career, he was a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, making you wonder what effect the work he didn’t do will have on the rest of us.

FURTHER career-shortening advice was expected to be forthcoming last Monday when he was scheduled to go before a Washington, D.C., district court to learn his fate. That hearing has been postponed until later this month because Beale has a sore throat, or a “potentially serious medical condition affecting his throat,” his attorney said in a court filing.

Maybe a confident air of enigmatic mystery will help both his health and his legal fate.

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