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January 25, 2024

Ranking Members Raskin and Thompson Call on DHS IG Cuffari to Cooperate with Congressional Investigation

New Evidence Shows Cuffari May Not Have Followed Procedures in a Stunning $1.17 Million Retaliation Settlement Against Him

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) Joseph V. Cuffari renewing their call for his office to comply with Congressional requests for documents and information into the use of taxpayer funds to settle claims of retaliation against him.  New evidence obtained by the Committees shows IG Cuffari may not have followed his office’s procedures when he delegated authority to his Chief of Staff to sign a stunning $1.17 million retaliation settlement against him. 

“The Committees recently obtained documents indicating that only the Inspector General has delegated authority to sign settlement agreements to resolve ‘any matter to which DHS OIG is a party.’  Yet your Chief of Staff, Kristen Fredricks, signed this settlement, which was ‘the largest known settlement involving an employee from a federal office of inspector general’…raising questions as to whether you followed the procedures established by your office,” wrote the Ranking Members.

New documents reviewed by the Committees found no redelegation of IG authorities to the IG’s deputies or highest official in the office under the negotiation or signing of settlement agreements authority. 

The Ranking Members wrote to IG Cuffari on July 27, 2023, requesting documents and details regarding his use of taxpayer funds to settle claims of retaliation against him.  The letter raised concerns about IG Cuffari’s integrity and leadership after he had a subordinate approve a $1.17 million settlement payment between DHS OIG and a former employee.  The letter also requested a separate briefing from two senior DHS OIG officials.

“In the six months that have elapsed since we wrote to you, you have failed to substantively respond to all seven of our requests.  You have also not made Deputy Inspector General and Chief of Staff Kristen Fredricks and Chief Counsel James Read available to brief the Committees as requested,” continued the Ranking Members.  

In addition to the $1.17 million settlement payment, IG Cuffari has spent nearly $1.4 million of taxpayer money to pay for WilmerHale to investigate senior DHS OIG employees and reportedly $500,000 for government attorneys to respond to employment litigation relating to claims of whistleblower retaliation.

Ranking Member Raskin also sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) IG Gail S. Ennis seeking information regarding her role in advising IG Cuffari to consider hiring WilmerHale.  As a former partner at WilmerHale who continues to receive financial compensation from the firm, SSA IG Ennis’ potential role advising IG Cuffari may violate her ethics agreement and could present financial conflicts of interest.

Click here to read the letter to Inspector General Cuffari.

Click here to read the letter to Inspector General Ennis.

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Press Contact

Adam Comis (Homeland Security): 202-225-9978