Following Reports of Misconduct by FEMA Official, McCaskill Seeks Answers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called for answers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) after recent reports of sexual misconduct and mismanagement by a high-ranking FEMA official.

In July, FEMA released an internal investigative report concerning allegations of sexual misconduct and mismanagement by its former head of human resources, Corey Coleman. The complaints against Coleman included allegations that he had engaged in improper sexual relationships with subordinates, promised promotions in exchange for continuing these relationships, and improperly hired personal friends who were unqualified for the positions they received.

“We need to get to the bottom of what happened in this case and get a better understanding of why it took so long to respond to initial allegations,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “I’m proud to join colleagues on both sides of the aisle to hold government agencies accountable and to make sure allegations of sexual misconduct and mismanagement are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

In a letter joined by Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Joni Ernst and Democratic Senator Gary Peters, McCaskill asked the DHS OIG, an independent watchdog that oversees FEMA, about its awareness of, and actions in response to, complaints made against Coleman dating back to April 2013. In a separate letter with the Senators, McCaskill wrote to FEMA regarding its investigation into the complaints made against Coleman.

The Senators wrote to FEMA, “We respectfully request your assistance in providing additional details about FEMA’s internal investigation into allegations against Mr. Coleman… [Q]uestions remain regarding the investigation into complaints made against Mr. Coleman and the manner in which FEMA’s approach to intake, management, and resolution of employee misconduct allegations will be improved in the future.”

McCaskill has been a key voice in the Senate for targeting sexual misconduct, as well as better government accountability on this issue. Earlier this year, she launched a bipartisan inquiry into the handling of sexual harassment and misconduct at the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Forest Service. In February, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced McCaskill’s bipartisan bill to improve sexual violence data collection at key federal agencies. Her bipartisan fix to military law to better guard against “revenge porn” by making such conduct a standard offense across the military became law last year. In 2014, McCaskill announced results from her unprecedented nationwide survey of how sexual assaults are handled on college campuses, which demonstrated a disturbing failure by many institutions in how they handle sexual violence against students.

As the top Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, McCaskill teamed up with Republican Senator Rob Portman to lead a landmark bipartisan investigation into the role of the website Backpage in facilitating sex trafficking, which culminated in a report entitled “’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” and found that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. The investigation resulted in bipartisan legislation to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice and the Senate’s 96-0 passage of a resolution authorizing a lawsuit against the company—the first such action in 20 years—after the company refused to turn over documents responsive to the Senators’ requests.

Read McCaskill’s letter to FEMA HERE.

Read McCaskill’s letter to the DHS OIG HERE.