In a blistering 17-page letter, the pinnacle of a congressional committee on Friday accused federal officers of improperly withholding data on Border Patrol brokers’ misconduct in a secret Fb group from congressional investigators.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chair of the Home Committee on Oversight and Reform, stated within the letter that she plans to subpoena inner Border Patrol paperwork detailing misconduct associated to the Fb group, which included some 9,500 present and former brokers. First uncovered by ProPublica in July 2019, the social media group known as “I’m 10-15” was rife with dehumanizing and misogynistic postings, together with a picture of President Donald Trump sexually assaulting Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The dispute that prompted Maloney’s letter facilities on the refusal of the Border Patrol’s mum or dad group, Customs and Border Safety, to show over paperwork figuring out by title, rank .and geographic location the brokers who have been disciplined or fired for making offensive posts within the Fb group. CBP has additionally failed to supply congressional investigators with any particulars about particular incidents that led to brokers being punished or fired. The information that CBP has offered to the committee are closely redacted, in keeping with Maloney.
“Whereas I didn’t come to the choice to subpoena the CBP calmly, it’s essential,” stated Maloney, a New York Democrat, in a press release to ProPublica. “The Committee wants these unredacted paperwork to supervise whether or not CBP is correctly disciplining its staff and whether or not staff who CBP discovered to have dedicated misconduct are nonetheless working instantly with immigrant ladies, kids, and infants.”
CBP has lengthy insisted that it’s barred by federal legislation from disclosing key particulars about its disciplinary course of, together with the names of staff who’ve confronted self-discipline for violating the company’s insurance policies.
Within the letter, nonetheless, Maloney known as CBP’s refusal to show over the unredacted disciplinary information as “legally baseless” and asserted that her committee “has direct jurisdiction over federal staff and company disciplinary procedures.”
CBP has stated publicly that it investigated 136 staff in connection to the “I’m 10-15” group and one other Fb group, and that the probe led to the firing of 4 brokers and the suspension of greater than three dozen others. Nonetheless, the company has stored most different information concerning the investigation confidential, declining to share data with the committee or subject a public report.
“Thus far, CBP has offered a major quantity of paperwork on the matter, a few of which have been publicly launched by the Committee with out CBP’s consent, along with offering quite a few briefings on the matter,” a CBP official stated in an emailed assertion. “Because the starting of this investigation, CBP’s main aim has been to supply transparency whereas nonetheless defending the well being and security of our personnel, given the excessive diploma of social unrest and the potential hostile focusing on of staff for the character of their employment.” The official stated the company is conscious of Maloney’s intent to subpoena the paperwork.
Her letter states that the paperwork CBP has already turned over present that the company “decreased penalties for quite a few staff” who engaged in misconduct; three brokers who have been slated to be fired had their punishments decreased to suspensions from work, whereas 19 others had the size of their suspensions minimize down.
The committee is searching for additional details about an agent recognized solely as “Fired Agent #1” within the letter. ProPublica’s reporting signifies that that is Thomas Hendricks, who served as a supervisory agent in Calexico, California, till he was ousted from the Border Patrol in October 2019 due to his offensive posts within the Fb group. It was Hendricks who posted the picture of Ocasio-Cortez being assaulted.
In line with Maloney’s letter, Hendricks informed inner affairs investigators that his postings have been “simply having enjoyable” and later described them as “good natured.”
Hendricks appealed his firing, however in a choice handed down final month a federal appeals board denied his request to be reinstated. The choice reveals that the agent made offensive Fb posts demeaning ladies and homosexual males whereas working. “It’s not an enormous deal to submit a meme on obligation,” Hendricks informed investigators.
His legal professional, Joel Kirkpatrick, didn’t return requests for remark.