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Oversight and Homeland Chairs Issue Statement on DHS IG Report Confirming Findings in Joint Investigation

Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Lou Correa, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security, issued this statement following a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) on the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s handling of race-based harassment allegations:
 

“Last December, our Committees reported that the Coast Guard Academy was failing to investigate allegations of harassment, bullying, and retaliation and failing to hold perpetrators accountable.  Now, the IG has found the exact same failings in the Academy’s handling of incidents of racism involving cadets.  The Academy’s arbitrary and ineffective investigatory and disciplinary processes cannot ensure that civil rights complaints are handled fairly.  However, the IG’s deeply troubling findings also call into question the Coast Guard’s commitment to ensuring that the Academy is a place where racism and discrimination will not be tolerated.  We cannot allow racism and discrimination to continue to go unchecked in this country.  We plan to convene a hearing to consider these urgent findings, and we expect the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schultz, to testify after he refused to appear before the Committees last year.”

Key findings from the DHS IG report:

  • The IG identified 16 allegations of race-based harassment involving cadets between 2013 and 2018 that the Coast Guard Academy “was aware of and had sufficient information to investigate and address through internal hate and harassment procedures.”
     
  • Of those 16, the IG “identified issues in how the Academy addressed 11 of them.”
     
  • In six incidents, “the Academy did not thoroughly investigate the allegations and/or did not discipline cadets.  In some instances, cadets committed similar misconduct again.”
     
  • In one incident involving potential hate allegations “the Academy did not follow the Coast Guard process for addressing hate incidents.”
     
  • The IG’s reviewed determined “race-based harassment is underreported at the Academy for various reasons, including concerns about negative consequences for reporting allegations.”
     
  • The IG noted:  “Underreporting is especially concerning because our questionnaire results and interviews indicate harassing behaviors continue at the Academy.”

The Committees’ joint investigation into the Coast Guard was initiated two years ago by then-Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and then-Ranking Member Thompson, in consultation with Representative Joe Courtney, to examine the handling of complaints of harassment and retaliation in the Coast Guard, including at the Coast Guard Academy, and the Academy’s responses to disparities identified in the Equity Scorecard review.
 

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