A Government Accountability Project letter alleges agency policy violations and employee targeting by a senior agency official.

A Government Accountability Project letter alleges agency policy violations and employee targeting by a senior agency official. J. David Ake / Getty Images

Group says CBP official drank while carrying firearm, retaliated against whistleblower

The Government Accountability Project sent a letter Wednesday to multiple congressional committees, the Homeland Security Department and others alleging a senior official consumed alcohol while in possession of an agency-issued firearm.

Representatives from a whistleblower nonprofit alleged in a letter Wednesday that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting chief medical officer, on more than one occasion, drank alcohol while possessing a firearm, which is a policy violation. 

The letter, sent by the Government Accountability Project to multiple congressional committees, detailed a report sent to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility by an individual alleging that Dr. Alexander Eastman, who has been the agency’s acting chief medical officer since June 2023, has inappropriately consumed liquor while carrying an agency-issued firearm.

The letter goes on to state that Eastman found out the whistleblower's identity in an apparent breach of confidentiality and has begun targeting the employee with disparate treatment.

Wednesday’s letter follows a report the GAP sent to multiple governmental entities in February that accused Eastman of creating a hostile work environment, including by allegedly using sexually suggestive and lewd language and yelling and cursing at staff. 

“There are folks who are afraid to go into the office because they’ve seen what [Eastman’s] behavior is like, and they’re afraid of him and they’re afraid of the fact that he has a gun,” said Andrea Meza, a lawyer for the GAP. “They’re also aware of not wanting to be alarmist, but the reality is [that] he’s demonstrated his character through his behavior.” 

In the February report, whistleblowers also said Eastman allegedly tried to get fentanyl lollipops for suspicious reasons, took unnecessary trips that were reimbursed by the government and violated rules to hire contractors. 

“CBP takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. We are investigating the allegations outlined in this letter, and will take swift action to address as appropriate,” a CBP spokesperson told Government Executive.

GAP sent Wednesday's letter to multiple officials with oversight authority over CBP, including the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Judiciary committees, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, the Office of Special Counsel and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

An aide for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee told Government Executive the panel does not comment on ongoing whistleblower matters. A Senate Judiciary Committee aide likewise said the panel didn't have anything to share about the letter. An OSC spokesperson said the office could not comment on or confirm the possible complaint.

Prior to being named CBP’s acting top doctor, Eastman served as a senior medical officer in the Homeland Security Department, starting in 2018, according to his LinkedIn page. 

An agency handbook prohibits officers and agents from drinking alcoholic beverages while carrying a CBP firearm, unless they’re working undercover. The GAP’s letter says this is common knowledge at the agency due to required training and regular reminders. 

Additionally, the letter questions why a chief medical officer would need a firearm and states that, despite the employee report to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, CBP issued Eastman an automatic rifle as recently as last week. 

“It seems to [the whistleblowers] as if CBP has doubled down on their support of this doctor instead of taking their concerns seriously,” Meza said. “These employees see that and they’re saying to themselves ‘Man, if we had been accused of one of these things, we would be put on admin duty, you know, we would be swiftly punished and investigated.’”

The Government Accountability Office reported in February that CBP employees, as well as staff from certain other Homeland Security agencies, were more likely to face disciplinary action than their supervisors.

House Oversight officials were unavailable for comment by press time. 

This story has been updated to include comment from CBP officials.

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