The top-ranking TSA official ousted from his post in a major shakeup over long lines at America's airports wasn't quite fired, it turns out – he was only grounded.
Fox News learned Tuesday that Kelly Hoggan, the Transportation Security Administration’s head of security operations whose removal was widely reported late Monday, was merely put on paid administrative leave pending reassignment.
Hoggan's dodge of the pink slip is the latest in a series of high-profile government officials curiously avoiding the chop in favor of a seemingly cushier fate. Before he was put on leave, Hoggan also had received $90,000 in bonuses, and it's unclear what his next move might be.
Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee previously had expressed outrage at the bonus package after reports surfaced of security screening failures at airports around the country. Those security lapses were detailed in a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report last year.
But the scrutiny recently turned to screening delays at airports in Chicago and other major hubs. Wait times have eclipsed three hours at some airports, a phenomenon TSA administrator Peter Neffenger and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have attributed, in part, to a shortage of TSA officers combined with heightened air traveler volume.
Despite TSA’s best efforts, the agency is still warning airline passengers to expect wait times and to “manage expectations” when preparing for travel. Neffenger has named Darby LaJoye, former head of security operations at Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, as Hoggan’s replacement effective immediately.
Hoggan is hardly the first official to collect a paycheck after being removed amid controversy.
Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the heart of the Tea Party targeting scandal, was allowed to retire in 2013 after being placed on administrative leave as the revelations of conservative groups being targeted for extra scrutiny came to light.
In May 2013, President Obama announced that Steven Miller – acting head of the IRS – had resigned. Obama, in a statement from the East Room of the White House, said he “will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”
What Obama failed to mention was that his time as commissioner would have ended just a few weeks later.
Last year, it was revealed two of the officials whose actions touched off the 2014 VA wait-time scandal were placed on paid leave for over a year. They weren't alone. Of the nearly 6,000 VA employees put on administrative leave between 2011 and 2013, 46 individuals were paid not to work for more than a year.
In November, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, probed the Department of Homeland Security on why 88 agency employees were getting paychecks while on leave for a year or more. According to his office, four were on leave for three years or more.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Matthew Dean and FoxNews.com's Jennifer Hickey contributed to this report.