In recent days, there have been rumors about Leslie Moonves, the President, and CEO of CBS, and accusations of unwanted groping and/or touching, sexual misconduct that may well cost him his lofty position. However, while that story has received wide attention in the #MeToo-compliant media, a similar story in the government does not seem to have received similar attention yet.
However, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator, Brock Long, the agency’s recently-departed human resource department head seems to have enabled sexual misconduct and harassment in the agency for more than 7 years, or since halfway into Obama’s first term as President of the United States. Indeed, he is currently being investigated for allegations of ‘widespread’ illegal and unethical practices at the agency. They investigated the things he allegedly did for seven months, which may have had some hand in his decision to resign from his post.
According to a story written in the Washington Post, and heavily based on interviews with Long, a seven-month-long investigation in the agency found that Corey Coleman, who ran FEMA’s personnel department since 2011, ran the office in a strange way.
He hired ‘dozens’ of friends, college fraternity brothers, and even women he met through bars and online dating websites.
Furthermore, he promoted these people without going through the right channels or process, and according to the account of a FEMA official, he even transferred women throughout the agency to help his friends realize ‘sexual conquests’ of said women.
The agency’s internal investigation into his conduct, which ended last week on Friday, also found that Coleman himself had ‘intimate’ relationships with at least two employees of the agency.
One occurred in 2015, and the other began in 2017 and allegedly continued into 2018.
The former head of FEMA’s human resources department resigned from his position last month, and did not have any comment to make about the accusations.
However, after the Washington Post published their account, Administrator Long issued a statement that included plans to prevent something like this from happening again in the future.
He said that the findings against Coleman had left him with no choice but to take “decisive action” to address the lapses in professional responsibility in the organization.
He declared that the allegations were “deeply disturbing,” and to state that harassment of any kind would not be tolerated at the agency.
Long also said that his agency would establish an Office of Professional Responsibility to adjudicate allegations of misconduct, offer counseling services, and also to conduct a thorough third-party examination of the organization’s sexual harassment review process.
Furthermore, he decreed that all employees of the agency would have to undergo third-party sexual harassment prevention training.
Long became the administrator of the organization in June 2017, after being appointed to the position by President Donald Trump in April 2017.
Before becoming the head administrator for FEMA, he had a number of similar positions. He worked for FEMA himself as the Hurricane Program Manager from November 2001 to January 2006, and he headed the Alabama Emergency Management Agency from 2008 to 2011, a state-level agency with a similar mission.
He told the Post that when he was confirmed to the position he now occupies, one woman complained directly to him that she had been sexually harassed by Coleman, which began the internal investigation that resulted in Coleman’s resignation.
While accusations that the head of HR for a large government organization that had a $13.9 billion budget in 2016 sexually harassed anyone, let alone multiple people, are horrific, there is something even more terrifying.
For years, for 3/4ths of the Barack Obama administration’s tenure, a man was in charge of human resources operations for a large government organization with more than 2,600 full-time employees who was simply giving jobs to friends of his, people he liked, and women he met through various ‘dating’ websites.
Important government positions were being given away in a terrible display of cronyism, to people who may have only gotten the job because they were part of the right ‘club’ of college kids, or because they happened to know the right guy.
How many people did Coleman hire who were not qualified, barely qualified, or who simply weren’t the best candidates for the jobs that they got?
How much damage did one man manage to do to a government agency that has had issues before?
The fallout from this investigation, and the actions of the previous HR head, could do damage that will hinder the proper function of FEMA for years to come.