WASHINGTON -- An inquiry by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led the Justice Department to correct its initial reply to whistleblower claims about hiring practices at the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). In its initial response to Grassley’s first inquiry about the hiring claims, DOJ falsely told Grassley that USMS Director Stacia Hylton did not recommend a certain individual for any job at USMS. DOJ recently admitted, however, that it “may have provided … inaccurate information.” In this letter, DOJ also provided emails between Hylton and then-Deputy Assistant Director of the Asset Forfeiture Division Kimberly Beal that support whistleblower claims of an exchange of favors between the two that led to the hiring of an unqualified, yet highly-paid contractor, whom Hylton favored, and a promotion for Beal. Whistleblowers also claim that the alleged impropriety was reported to USMS’ Office of General Counsel before Beal received the promotion.
“I appreciate the Justice Department correcting an inaccurate answer. However, I am concerned that DOJ is continuing to allow the U.S. Marshals Service to conduct this review in light of the inaccurate information it has supplied. This revelation calls into question the ability of the U.S. Marshals Service to thoroughly investigate improper behavior of its own leadership,” Grassley said.
The email exchange released by DOJ indicated that Hylton provided Beal with the resume of an individual she highly recommended to be hired for a contracting position within the USMS’ Asset Forfeiture Division. Whistleblowers claim that the individual did not meet qualification requirements for the position, and that Beal was being considered by Hylton to lead the division when she influenced subordinates to ensure that the hiring director selected Hylton’s preferred candidate.
Emails provided to the committee are further evidence that Beal inserted herself into the hiring process involving the preferred candidate, and that Beal knew he did not meet the job’s qualification requirements. The committee is also aware that this matter was reported to the USMS Office of General Counsel as early as December 2013, before Beal was appointed to her permanent position. There is no evidence to date that the OGC did anything to respond to the allegation.
Grassley raised concerns about the alleged quid pro quo in March, and followed up earlier this month after DOJ failed to dispel concerns of impropriety. DOJ has since pledged to continue its investigation in light of this evidence and Grassley’s concerns.