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Senate Judiciary Chairman Leads Investigation on Whistleblower Retaliation at the Marshals Service

Since taking the gavel as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee this year, Chuck Grassley has been digging into a variety of issues at the U.S. Marshals Service.

Grassley’s inquiries have resulted in many whistleblowers coming forward to aid his committee’s investigations into improper hiring practices, inappropriate spending by the Asset Forfeiture Division, and whistleblower retaliation.

Prior to August recess, Chairman Grassley took to the Senate floor to highlight charges that the Marshals Service Internal Affairs is being abused to target and silence whistleblowers who have been sharing information with his committee.

“Just so we are clear, over 60 current and former U.S. Marshals Service employees have made disclosures to my office since March.  That is over 1.1% of the agency.  Many of the reports include allegations that the Marshals Service frequently uses Internal Affairs investigations as mechanisms for reprisal,” the Senator stated on the Senate floor. 

“Reprisal for what?  For engaging in activities explicitly protected by law,” Grassley continued. “Multiple whistleblowers from all across the Marshals Service have also told me that Internal Affairs does whatever it can to charge employees with misconduct—regardless of what the evidence actually says.”  

Chairman Grassley and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member sent a letter to the Attorney General requesting a briefing on the issues raised by whistleblowers, only to be told that it would be “inappropriate to discuss.”

“If the Justice Department and the Marshals Service think I’m just going to go away or give up on this, then they’re even less competent than I feared,” Grassley concluded his remarks.

Jon Adler, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) said in a statement to FEDagent that his organization “respects Senator Grassley's commitment to ensuring whistle-blower protections for our members, and our attorney's will vehemently represent any FLEOA member who is targeted for retaliation.”

“Regarding the agency's alleged misuse of its Internal Affairs ‎component, that may be viewed best on a case-by-case basis,” FLEOA’s Adler continued. “Senator Grassley might want to consider the impact the recent House OGR committee inquisitions have had on Agency heads. Specifically, the committee has been harsh in its criticism of law enforcement agency leadership for allegedly failing to police internal issues, i.e., the unprofessional lambasting of former DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. To avoid congressional scrutiny, agencies may now be more inclined to make quick referrals to their IA or IG components. Therefore, each incident should be reviewed thoroughly and in consideration of the allegation that prompted the referral to IA, as well as the subsequent investigation.” 

Earlier this summer, following the resignation of Director Stacia Hylton, Grassley stated, “It’s never good news when the head of an agency needs to step aside in the midst of these kinds of allegations, and it also doesn’t mean the investigations are complete.  The Committee’s inquiry into the broad range of whistleblower allegations will continue alongside the inquiries by the Inspector General and Special Counsel.  Accountability and transparency are the best tools to restore trust in an organization that is supposed to be setting an example of respect for the rule of law.”

“As the Marshals Service moves forward, the next director must be committed to bringing real, positive change to what appears to be a culture corroded by unethical hiring practices, misuse of funds and retaliation against whistleblowers,” he continued.

“FLEOA respects [Marshals Service] Acting Director [David] Harlow and trusts he will review this matter fairly and expeditiously. It is critical that all IA and IG departments be viewed as objective and fair, and allegations that suggest otherwise need to be investigated,” Adler stated to FEDagent.  

Posted in General News

Tags: U.S. Marshals Service, whistleblower

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