TSA harassment allegations probed
Updated 3:06 p.m. ET
Homeland Security Department investigators plan to visit Transportation Security Administration workers in Orlando and Tampa next week as part of an ongoing review of allegations of harassment against gay, lesbian and African American workers there, according to e-mails obtained by The Federal Eye.
The department's Office of Inspector General started looking into the allegations last October and they gained national attention when CNN reported in January about managers at the Orlando field office of the Federal Air Marshals Service who used a crew assignment board resembling the "Jeopardy!" game show to ridicule and keep score on women, gays and minorities.
Lawmakers have heard little about the investigation since it launched, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
"Several credible sources with direct, firsthand evidence into this matter recently contacted my staff," Issa wrote last week in a letter to DHS Inspector General Richard L. Skinner. "They expressed serious concerns about the sufficiency and expediency of [the Transportation Security Administration's Office of Inspection] investigation. In particular, these witnesses have advised they have not been contacted by OI or by your office. This is puzzling."
Within hours of Issa's letter, inspectors e-mailed TSA and Air Marshals employees in the Orlando and Tampa region announcing plans to visit next Monday through Friday.
"We will conduct site visits in other FAMS field offices across the country during the next several months," the e-mail said. "We are interested in any information, concerns or ideas you would like to contribute to this inspection." Investigators plan to probe allegations from workers in Cincinnati, Congressional aides said.
The e-mail promised to maintain workers' anonymity if necessary.
Paul Wood with the DHS inspector general's office said in an e-mail that "It is our policy not to comment on our ongoing reviews."
Though the agency employs about 40,000 people, at least a half dozen workers have prompted embarrassing headlines for TSA since January, including officers who beat a co-worker, acted erratically in public and stole money from a wheelchair-bound passenger.
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