A group of employees working for the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog is calling on President Biden to remove their boss, saying they’ve lost hope that the “ship will fix itself.”
The motion comes after numerous congressional bodies asked DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to deviate from various investigations after he failed to alert lawmakers in good time that Secret Service text messages were “deleted” for January 6.
An anonymous letter from Project on Government Oversight was signed by “concerned DHS OIG staff representing every program office at every grade level,” who added that “we cannot identify ourselves for fear of retaliation.”
“Effective monitoring of the newest and third-largest cabinet department is difficult enough and shouldn’t be hampered by our own leadership,” the staff wrote.
“We need help. We can no longer remain silent when faced with ongoing mismanagement by DHS OIG at the highest level. IG Cuffari has made it clear that he wants to remain in his position, even in the face of continued, well-deserved criticism from the media, from Congress, from other regulatory bodies, and from his own staff. A true leader would recognize the impact of their actions on their workforce and understand that the right thing to do is step aside. However, IG Cuffari is not a real leader. Instead, he weakens and undercuts his career staff every step of the way.”
Cuffari has been scrutinized for almost his entire term as inspector general at DHS since he was nominated by former President Trump in 2019. He was tapped for this role after working as an adviser on military issues for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R).
In the past, he was accused of removing information from OIG reports and of failing to respond to an astonishing sexual harassment survey at DHS or a request to investigate the Secret Service’s role in removing demonstrators from Lafayette Park so Trump was able to take a photo with a Bible.
But the revelation that he did not alert Congress to miss January 6 texts from both Secret Service agents and two agency heads has sparked the latest criticism.
The letter includes a range of topics, many of which have been set out in various congressional letters to Cuffari in recent years in pieces that call on him to justify his decisions.
employee letter states that Cuffari “refused to move forward with important proposed work for no reason,” delayed the investigation for months or years, and excluded career employees “so that only he and his inner circle gave the most reviews,” “employees’ efforts to gather information, disrupt” and “significant editing of reports to remove key findings, which weakens the impact of the reports.”
Cuffari’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the White House.
Cuffari was asked to deviate from his investigation on January 6 from both House Oversight Committees and Homeland Security “in light of the cascading revelations about your failure to effectively conduct this investigation and to communicate truthfully with Congress.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Department of Justice to take over the investigation instead.
response to the committees, Cuffari publicly released his response and sent it to all DHS OIG staff, which they said was a warning sign for employees.
“His actions do not represent these more than 700 employees. His actions continue to damage his own reputation and the reputation of DHS OIG. His actions are not the actions of a true leader. His actions embarrass the entire agency. His actions significantly hinder and hinder our mission,” the letter from the staff states.
“They’re the only one who can help us before DHS OIG is damaged forever by IG Cuffari,” they told Biden.