November 30, 2011, - 3:03 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Who is Erik Barnett? Obama’s ICE Cronyism & the “European Vacation” You’re Paying For

By Debbie Schlussel

Rumor has it that Barack Obama’s ineffective, incompetent, money-wasting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief, John Moron Morton, will soon be leaving his post.  But that’s not before he’s allegedly wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on taxpayer-funded booty call trips to his New York-based girlfriend.  And then there’s the do-nothing plum job he created out of whole cloth for his friend, Erik Barnett.  You’ve probably never heard of him, but you are paying for him to take a luxe year-long sabbatical to Europe . . . and his brand new $55,000 Audi.

You’re Paying for Erik Barnett’s ICE “European Vacation”

Janet Napolitano & John Morton Handing Out European Vacations to Cronies



Over the last year or so, a number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have contacted me regarding Erik Barnett and how he has used his government positions to cozy up to the movie industry and try to get hired by a Hollywood studio.  They can’t figure out what else he does for a living.  It’s certainly not protecting U.S. citizens from illegal aliens, nor is it enforcing U.S. customs law.  Mr. Barnett is now making well over $200,000 per year in salary and benefits, while he hangs out in Brussels in the dubious position of “Senior Policy Advisor to the European Union/Deputy Director of the IPR Center for Europe.”  IPR stands for Intellectual Property Rights, and Barnett’s job is allegedly to advise the European Union on how to protect their intellectual property rights and those of pro sports teams and celebrities here in America.  Check out the invitation for Barnett’s “good-bye” party, held by ICE in September announcing his cushy new ICE job in Belgium.

Why you–and not the European Union or wealthy pro sports leagues and Hollywood–are paying for this BS position is a question you’d have to ask Barack Hussein Obama and his hand-picked ICE chief, Mr. Moron. Oh, and Morton’s direct boss, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.  The job Barnett holds didn’t exist under the Bush Administration.  It was created by Morton to give his buddy, Barnett, a George Washington University law professor and staffer to uber-liberal Senator Dick “Gitmo is Auschwitz” Durbin, a fancy European vacation on your dime.  (Barnett worked with Morton as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Virginia and has zero law enforcement experience. His list of paper-pusher bureaucrat jobs is on LinkedIn.)  The job was never announced, nor was there an application, interview process, or any other competitive selection procedure, as is the case with normal government jobs.

You paid for Mr. Barnett to move with his wife and two kids to Brussels.  You are paying for his “Senior Executive Service” (SES) job in Europe, the only ICE employee with SES status in all of Europe. And although the SES title is given for senior ICE managers who actually manage a large number of employees, Barnett manages zero employees (other than himself). But getting SES status automatically requires the federal government to pay him $90,000 toward his housing in Europe. You are paying for his entire family to live in Brussels and, if he chose to sell his home in the U.S., you paid for the government to buy that home at market rates if he couldn’t sell it after a few months.  And I already mentioned the fancy Audi you bought for him so he can tool around Europe and not have to take the train or subway like all the “little people” in Europe.

And this foray into Europe isn’t the first time Mr. Morton’s lawyer crony, Mr. Barnett, had do-nothing fun as a government employee.  Before his European vacation began, Barnett had the lofty title, “Assistant Deputy Director of ICE” and headed the ICE National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.  I’ve told you about ICE’s intellectual property rights work.  It’s an absurd expenditure of government resources to play the NFL’s, Major League Baseball’s, and other well-financed sports and entertainment companies’ personal trademark enforcement police.  And, again, it has nothing to do with ICE’s missions, however growing and murky they become.

Barnett ran something called “Operation In Our Sites,” in which ICE seized domain names, just as they did the other day.  ICE’s claim and argument is that these domain names sell fake Gucci bags that fund Islamic terrorism.  And while it is true that ICE has investigated and arrested gangs and Muslim store owners around the country who sell fake merchandise that does, in fact, fund terrorism (and I applaud those investigations and arrests), the websites and other operations in which this center is involved have nothing to do with terrorism.  Not only have none of the websites been linked to Islamic terrorism, but (as I’ve pointed out in previous posts on this site) ICE has never linked a single t-shirt or baseball hat that its agents seized at the Superbowl and Major  All-Star Game to Islamic terrorism.  In fact, ICE usually just dumps the shirts or donates them to charity.  They don’t investigate these people or arrest them.  This is the stuff Mr. Barnett was in charge of.  And it’s the stuff he’s supposedly involved with in Europe, where I’m sure there’s a huge market for fake Les Detroit Tigres t-shirts.

ICE agents who are actually ‘ordered’ to do these seizures, including the website seizures, think this is a complete waste of time and, as one agent called it, “a chicken-shit effort at grandstanding by senior political appointees at ICE – namely, Erik Barnett,” designed to get media attention because ICE doesn’t arrest illegal aliens anymore.  As more than one ICE agent told me, this causes the criminal cases targeting criminal organizations to be placed on the back burner while these domain name seizure cases are shoved down the throats of ICE agents.  Tens of thousands of dollars of specially budgeted funds are wasted buying fake Rolex watches and Chanel hand bags from Chinese based websites, or paying for memberships to download the latest rap song off of some site in order to justify seizures.  These precious funds were earmarked for supporting major criminal investigations that would involve criminals going to jail.

Barnett focused his efforts on the movie industry, as he is apparently looking to get a post-Obama job with one of the big Hollywood studios.  ICE agents were told that they have to seize domain names since that would help Barnett and Morton get a national press conference with the Attorney General.  And, voila, in the last week, John Morton had yet another press conference with Eric  Holder bragging about how he’s stopped Islamic terrorism by shutting down these websites.  It’s a big fat lie.  As several agents told me, long-term criminal investigations into organized criminal activity that would result in people going to jail simply took too long for Barnett and takes too long for John Morton.  ICE has been told that they can not work such long term cases because the ICE Obama appointees involved want to give press conferences every month or so in order to keep their names in the media, something Barnett did and Morton continues to do.

When Barnett headed the ICE IPR Center, he held so many personal meetings with the motion picture industry, many ICE agents wondered whether they were working for Paramount Pictures, SONY, and FOX, rather than the American people.  Even the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia – where the IPR Center is located – has refused to deal with ICE regarding these domain name seizures.

ICE agents want to work criminal cases.  That’s what they are supposed to do and it’s their job description.  As one ICE agent said (and other echoed him),

This domain name seizure operation is garbage.  None of the sites stayed down.  All of the Chinese sites selling fake hard goods had dozens of mirror sites up, which were never touched by John Morton.   Other sites went back up immediately under different domain names.

But it’s great free publicity for John Morton . . . and it got Erik Barnett a fancy vacation in Europe on your dime.

Meanwhile, ICE agents want to get back to working criminal cases to protect the American people.  Sadly, they don’t call the shots, and the Obamaniks have a different agenda:  protecting and enriching themselves, while you pay for it.

Your immigration enforcement tax dollars at work!

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10 Responses

Nothing has changed in almost 150 years. The Lincoln administration wa as corrupt as you can get. Now this administration is much worse. Combine corruption with the satanic cult of Islam and you have a recepe for total disaster.

Confederate South on November 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Great work as usual Debbie. Did you know that John Chakwin was run off as SAC/Dallas back in April? Apparently his ICE HQ buddies couldn’t convince DHS to let him stay in Dallas after OPR nailed him for making a false statement under oath. But his pals were able to keep him on the payroll (sick leave) until the end of the year. ICE/HSI has been paying an “acting SAC” travel and per diem for almost a year to fill in while Chakwin sits at home collecting full pay and getting his “high 3” years so he can retire on an SES pension. ICE is the punchline on more jokes than any agency in the government. The waste, fraud and mismanagement cover up at ICE is just like Sandusky at Pedophile State. EVERYBODY on the inside knows about it but nobody will do anything about it.

Bonzer Wolf on November 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Glad I never worked for him. Heard he was a real d**khead. Also heard that he was being paid by the Dallas Cowboys for a security position while still employed by ICE. True or not I can’t say.

    WilliamMunny on December 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

Customs may have a role in seizing counterfeit goods but I can’t imagine where its the government to promote corporate trademarks in the EU. I would think companies can pay for their own promotion and the taxpayers shouldn’t be doing it for them. I buy high end stuff from authorized dealers so I didn’t waste money on poor quality merchandise. Whatever Erik Barnett is doing, it doesn’t seem related to what Customs does and when I buy stuff abroad for personal use, I’ve never had to pay duty on it.

NormanF on November 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Nice to know that the hard working civil service federal employees have had their pay frozen for the next few years in order to pay for these European Vacations and a fancy car. Real nice.

Bob R on December 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

fraud waste and abuse happens in los angeles too. why is a cbp 15 manager assigned to a cubicle in a ice investigative group? inquiring minds.

wowee on December 4, 2011 at 2:22 am

Why is this news? Just about ever “senior manager” working for Morton has been on near-constant around-the-world junkets. They’re all getting their sight-seeing in on tax payer funds before the administration changes. Why do his Chiefs of Staff and Senior Advisor’s need to take unaccompanied trips to Colombia, England, Australia, etc? I believe the recently reassigned Director of OIA was wise to what was going on and wouldnt facilitate it anymore, hence the reason for his departure to main DHS.

P.S. Chakwin is on sick leave and is retiring at the end of this month. He didn’t falsify anything and is not departing under scandalous circumstances (nor is he receiving compensation or employment from outside sources).

What Else is New on December 6, 2011 at 10:14 am

    That is exactly right,most of these oversea positions are paper-pushing, 9-5, party jobs that serve absolutely no purpose other than ICE had to fill it with a body, and any non-English speaking illegal alien could’ve filled it and done just as adequate a job. But since ICE cannot do that they select clowns with no experience, based on cronyism or whom they “like”. They usually come from the school of conducting “investigations” from the comfort and safety of their desks, and spin their wheels daily, but look good to management because they are ass-kissers and keep their desks full of binders that are filled with computer print-outs and call that a complex “investigation”. They don’t do anything with the authority they have in the U.S., what are they going to do in a country where they have no authority to enforce laws?

    MF Jones on December 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Chakwin lied under oath on several OPR cases and that is why he left. After MF left he had no one to protect him and he was asked to leave.

    DFW on January 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

All that begs the question “How much did it cost the goverment to make a position overseas in the first place?” I imagine that Erik’s IPN in Brussels could have funded at least 60 maybe 70 HSI positions stateside. I guess he worth every penny, I mean talking about one person that is worth 100 investigators and couldn’t be replaced by anyone at all in US. He must be shelling out cases in Europe like crazy…wait don’t they have ICE Attaché office or two that is fully-staffed right next to Brussels somewhere? Well not to worry, Erik will take care of counterfeit merchandize that is flooding American market and will get rid of those illegals aliens from Belgium that is taking jobs from real Americans…who am I kidding, public servants like him is only serving themselves to public funds and OPR is only going after those officers who is drawing attention to fraud and abuse done by management.

George on December 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

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