Michael Kortan was the FBI’s press officer during the 2016 election.
New reporting from the Daily Caller has revealed that the FBI’s former chief press officer was forced to resign last year, after lying to the Department of Justice’s inspector general about accepting baseball tickets from a CNN reporter.
Michael Kortan was formerly the FBI’s assistant director of public affairs. He resigned from the agency in 2018, while under investigation from the Office of the Inspector General. The DOJ’s watchdog entity had discovered text messages in which Kortan agreed to accept baseball tickets to two Washington Nationals games during May and September 2016 from a CNN reporter. A report from the Office of the Inspector General describes Kortan as displaying a “lack of candor” during two interviews he was subjected to on the matter, suggesting that Kortan lied about accepting the gifts from a forbidden source.
Kortan also accepted baseball tickets from a New York Times reporter in 2014 and 2016. The anonymous CNN reporter who evidently provided gifts to the bureaucrat was apparently considered one of his top press contacts, suggesting that he or she may have been privy to confidential agency information that should have been kept private.
“Nats v Marlins Friday night. I have to be away. Can you use four tix?” Said one text from the CNN operative.
Kortan seemed relatively shameless in his response, accepting a gift that most professionals committed to ethics would quickly decline.
“I’m good for 2 tix if that’s OK.”
The Department of Justice ultimately didn’t prosecute Kortan for the breach of FBI rules, possibly because of his decision to resign from the agency.
FBI agents are strictly prohibited from receiving gifts from “prohibited sources,” who include journalists who cover the agency’s operations. It goes without saying that a high-ranking public affairs agent is totally forbidden from taking baseball tickets from CNN and New York Times reporters.
The FBI has struggled to retain its image as a neutral and non-partisan law enforcement agency, following years of scandals in which agency personnel were busted trying to interfere in partisan politics and national elections.