WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the following statement regarding the announced resignation of U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton:
“News of Ms. Hylton’s decision to resign comes as the Marshals Service faces serious allegations of misconduct within its senior ranks. The Justice Department has referred whistleblower claims I’ve raised to the Inspector General for further investigation, and the Office of Special Counsel is pursuing separate inquiries following charges of whistleblower retaliation. It’s never good news when the head of an agency needs to step aside in the midst of these kinds of allegations, and it also doesn’t mean the investigations are complete. The Committee’s inquiry into the broad range of whistleblower allegations will continue alongside the inquiries by the Inspector General and Special Counsel. Accountability and transparency are the best tools to restore trust in an organization that is supposed to be setting an example of respect for the rule of law.
“As the Marshals Service moves forward, the next director must be committed to bringing real, positive change to what appears to be a culture corroded by unethical hiring practices, misuse of funds and retaliation against whistleblowers.”
For several months, Grassley has been investigating claims by dozens of whistleblowers across multiple divisions of the Marshals Service, ranging from hiring quid pro quos involving Hylton to misuse of funds within the Asset Forfeiture Division to nepotism. Grassley’s inquiries have led the Justice Department to call for an independent investigation into the claims.
Grassley sent a letter to the Hylton on March 18 regarding alleged misuse of the Asset Forfeiture Fund, including claims that officials used the Fund to purchase extravagant office furnishings. However, the agency’s response was incomplete and contained several discrepancies, requiring a greater explanation.
Grassley also sent a letter to the Justice Department on March 19 relating to allegations of an inappropriate exchange of favors that led to the hiring of a highly-paid yet unqualified contractor and Hylton’s promotion of another Marshals Service official. Grassley followed up on his letter regarding the alleged hiring quid pro quo on April 7, after the Justice Department failed to dispel these concerns. The Justice Department later stated on April 17 that it may have provided the Committee with incomplete or inaccurate information and is continuing its investigations. In this letter, the Justice Department supplied email records supporting the claims of a quid pro quo.
These exchanges have prompted other whistleblowers to come forward to raise new concerns and corroborate some of the earlier allegations. Unfortunately, senior leadership at the Marshals Service has a sordid track record of misconduct and lack of cooperation with federal investigations. Therefore, Grassley intends to continue his own investigation, which may continue into the tenure of Hylton’s replacement.