WASHINGTON – The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday he won’t resign amid reports that he is the subject of an investigation into his use of government vehicles for personal travel.
“I'm here to serve my country every day – that’s all I do,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said during an appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
Long denied reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asked him to step down.
“Secretary Nielsen has never asked me to resign,” he said. “We have a very functional and professional relationship.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is investigating whether Long "misused government resources and personnel" on his weekend trips home to Hickory, North Carolina, Politico reported last week.
Long reportedly began having a government driver take him home after he took control of FEMA last year. Aides that went with him were put up in hotels at taxpayers' expense, one official told Politico.
While Florence ravaged the Carolinas on Sunday, Long spent much of his time on "Meet the Press," answering questions about the investigation.
Long said he was cooperating with the investigation and defended his use of the government vehicles, which he said are needed to provide secure communication.
The vehicle program “ran for me the same way it's run for anybody else,” he said. “And you know, it's my understanding that maybe some policies were not developed around these vehicles that we will get cleared up and pushed forward.”
Long defended President Donald Trump’s denials that 3,000 people in Puerto Rico died a year ago during Hurricane Maria.
In a series of tweets last week, Trump questioned the death toll and claimed it was a Democratic ploy to “make me look as bad as possible.”
Trump is defensive “because he knows how hard these guys behind me work day in and day out for a very complex situation,” Long said. “And it's frustrating.”
Studies have calculated the death toll differently and “the numbers are all over the place,” he said.
Regardless, “there’s just too much blame going around, and we need to be focused on what is Puerto Rico going to look like tomorrow,” he said.