You are here

Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images


An investigation into Gettysburg National Military Superintendent John Latschar turned up more than it expected to. NPS photo.

A lengthy investigation into allegations that Gettsysburg National Military Park Superintendent John Latschar acted unethically in running the park found no wrongdoing, but it reportedly turned up thousands of instances in which the superintendent's computer was used to access pornographic images.

The report (attached below) by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General detailed a litany of charges against Superintendent Latschar, ranging from misappropriating park dollars for a hot tub at his home to coercing employees to donate their accumulated leave time to his wife, a park employee. After interviewing more than 45 individuals and reviewing "thousands of pages of public and private documents" the investigators cleared the superintendent of any wrongdoing.

However, while the 24-page report mentioned searching the superintendent's office computer for emails tied to the allegation that he asked employees to donate their unused leave time to his wife, it was silent on the discovery of more than 3,400 Internet searches for sexually explicit content. The Washington Post, however, said that it had obtained an internal memo to then-acting Park Service Director Dan Wenk that mentioned the discovery.

In an article published Monday the newspaper reported that:

An internal Aug. 7 memo from an investigator to Daniel N. Wenk, the acting director of the National Park Service, details the discovery of the images on the computer hard drive that was seized by investigators. But the office of Mary L. Kendall, acting inspector general for the Department of the Interior, omitted details of the computer probe or any mention of the violation from a 24-page report that was released Sept. 17.

"Latschar's inappropriate use of his government computer violates DOI policy," states the memo obtained by The Washington Post. The investigator forwarded the report to Wenk for "whatever actions you deem appropriate."

Wenk, through a spokesman, called the matter a "personnel issue" and would not comment on whether disciplinary action was taken.

Latschar also declined interview requests. He remains in his $145,000-a-year job.

The memo said that Latschar signed a sworn statement acknowledging "that he had viewed inappropriate pictures on his government computer during work hours" and that "he was aware of his wrongdoing while he was doing it."

A call to the National Park Service's Washington headquarters for comment was not immediately returned.


I am a to each his own type person. However there is a time and place for everything. Latschar should really use some of that $145,000 salary to buy a personal laptop. He seems to think he can do what he wants when he wants.

As a former long-term NPS employee I am grieved by the extent and by the general sleezieness of Latschar's conduct. The fact that the Bush-era "ETHICS" board would have approved such a clearly unethical arrangement is beyond belief. The fact that Latschar could have downloaded that much porn when rank and file employees could not even get on to many legitimate research search engines just goes to show how far NPS has sunk and how currupt the system has become. HELLO Obama Administration, time to take the NPS back to being a government agency above politics and curruption.

Not every governmental agency is squeaky clean or full of lies and hypocrisy. At least let's hope that we can do a lot better then the last administration. And, we all can be thankful for the fact that we now have a new national parks director that carries a code of ethics that shines better then the last two. At this point, I would demote Superintendent Latschar or shanghai him to a national park that has less exposer.

I read this in the Washington Post today; and I thought at first whatever, we are human. At least he was honest and ethical as nothing is even near in truth of what appeared to be the original allegations against him. I wondered if he could or will sue those making those complaints; if you have been through BS like that - you would understand.

But then I read the posts here by chance and.....what the heck!

TO THE FiRST poster:
First - - you obviously do not understand computers and the numbers mentioned versus hits, searches, etc. And was it a laptop and did he use it from home or on travel where the net connection was not Gov-owned? And were they from him or the last person to use it? Initially it can look bad, but then when you consider the crap the typical PC will pick up as Temp files from loading one page, it may not be as serious as it appears.
Second - I am impressed as you must personally know the Almighty himself (or herself) as from this very small amount of information you are somehow able to make a huge judegment about him, much less think you are so beyond reproach that you in fact should be allowed to make such a decision or comment.
Third - the wording of your comments make it sound like you perhaps have a personal grudge. Maybe it used to be you computer and those were your searches and you were disciplined for it??? Or maybe you were one of some that had made a complaint against them??? And you are upset that none if it was true and are just happy to see something totally unrelated used to ping the dude instead??
Fourth - I have read about so much BS about this park and the new center that it makes me sick (I live south of there) - in fact - it appears that many people living on the public's back were RIF or retired because of the way the "system" actually change for the better for once. Were you perhaps one of them??? What - should Obama make it into a welfare Park again for your benefit??? Even though you work for the Government, you still have to actually do that "work" thing also......
Fifth - from what I hear is that he did get some time off for that sole violation. And he did it to get the all of the BS behind him - he would not file a complaint against the NPS nor file suit against those making false allegations (to spare the Park anymore distractions), and he would simply take the punishment for the Internet stuff even though they said he did not believe it was all from him.

I am fairly informed of news, esp local news. And simply put - nothing even was remotely found to be unethical about him....thats something good, esp for a NPS director. ....

Oh yeah - as someone that works for a different Fed Agency - I think it woudl be neat to see the identity of the leak and put him on the street perm, jailed for IG report violation, and sued by the Latchar guy. Hehe.

This comment was edited. -- Ed

" ... or shanghai him to a national park with less exposer (sic). "
I think that is a solution all too often employed by the NPS. Too many parks suffer from less than adequate leadership because the powers that be just shuffle the problems around, often promoting them to affect the necessary shuffle, rather than growing a pair and firing the ne'er-do-wells that have no business inhabiting their positions of great responsibility.

The fact that this man was "cleared of all charges" (and remains in his job despite clear evidence that he misuses government property) does not speak only to NPS corruption, it speaks to corruption that infects ALL Federal agencies.
Proper discipline of wrongdoing and poor performance is sorely lacking in the NPS, because it's feared that the accused will litigate their way to job security. Or because the accused are too well connected to money makers that pick up the tabs our government should be paying. (HELLO MR. LATSCHAR! THE GETTYSBURG FOUNDATION PUT YOU IN POWER, IS THIS ANY WAY TO REPAY THEM??)

I long for a day when managers and administrators of our Federal agencies, the NPS included, regain the courage to support ethics in the workplace, rather than cower in the corner for fear of litigation, or damaging financially lucrative "partnerships".

... If you move problem people around, you move their problems right along with them. I've heard of this happening before - they won't be doing the next park any favors. The powers that be should deal with their problem children right away ...

This comment was edited.-- Ed.

It is always Bush's fault when someone does not like something that happened in the last four years. I believe that the man discussed above was appointed to his position during the first term of that very clean individual in his own right, Bill Clinton. He had nothing to hide.

RE:"The fact that the Bush-era "ETHICS" board would have approved such a clearly unethical arrangement is beyond belief. The fact that Latschar could have downloaded that much porn when rank and file employees could not even get on to many legitimate research search engines just goes to show how far NPS has sunk and how currupt the system has become. HELLO Obama Administration, time to take the NPS back to being a government agency above politics and curruption."

Typical hypocritical political response. Sorry to burst your holier then thou bubble, But Lastchar was appointed to the superintendent position in 1994. I figured a self-proclaiming, long-term employee of the NPS would know that? I wonder, what was the name of that administration?

Oh yeah, you misspelled corruption...


Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments