Senator Seeks Feds' Assistance in Identifying Mistreatment of Career Staff
Committee has received allegations of political interference by Biden officials, Republican lawmaker says.
A Republican senator is seeking assistance from a federal labor union to document any allegations of mistreatment against federal employees, noting his office has fielded an uptick of complaints in recent months.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., made his request to the National Treasury Employees Union, asking the organization to spread the word among its members. Toomey is specifically seeking whistleblowers from agencies under the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, where he serves as the ranking member.
In his letter, Toomey—a staunch opponent of President Biden and previously not known as a champion of the federal workforce—said his committee has heard from “confidential whistleblowers” at multiple agencies under the banking umbrella that agency officials are engaging in “harassment, discrimination and other forms of abuse” against career staff. To help address “any federal employee mistreatment,” Toomey said, he asked NTEU President Tony Reardon to distribute his office’s contact details—including specific channels for whistleblowers—to the union’s members to solicit information on any instances of misconduct or wastefulness. Toomey said anyone who comes forward will remain confidential.
An aide to the committee could not offer specifics on the allegations the committee has received, suggesting it could have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers, but said they concern disparate treatment of and improper interference with career staff. The allegations have come from multiple financial regulatory agencies, the aide said.
Reardon said he could not comment on any specific allegations, but supported the efforts of any lawmakers to root out harassment and discrimination.
“We appreciate Sen. Toomey’s strong reminder that federal employees are encouraged to report to members of Congress any harassment, discrimination or abuse in the workplace,” Reardon said. “NTEU stands ready to assist our members and Congress in addressing the concerns raised by confidential whistleblowers who work for the federal government, and make sure the federal workplace is free from unlawful behavior and prohibited personnel actions.”
Many of the agencies at which NTEU represents employees, such as the Treasury Department, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission, fall under Toomey and the banking committee’s purview.
SEC and NTEU are currently butting heads as they seek to negotiate new collective bargaining and compensation agreements. Historically, the agency and union have bargained over those two contracts separately, but SEC Chair Gary Gensler—a Biden appointee—is seeking to merge them. The union said both sides have previously agreed that they are better served not trying to seek concessions by playing one agreement off the other and condemned Gensler’s attempt to terminate the existing contract during the negotiating process. Greg Gilman, who heads the NTEU SEC chapter and has led negotiations with the agency since 2006, said Gensler is taking “the most aggressively anti-employee strategy” he has ever seen. The union is seeking an intervention from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
SEC did not respond to a request for comment.
Toomey previously sought a probe of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for its approach with the civil service, asking the agency, President Biden’s since-confirmed nominee to lead the bureau and its inspector general to review allegations of prohibited personnel practices. The requests followed a Government Executive report on the Biden administration taking an unusually aggressive approach to clean house at the top career executive level within CFPB, including by offering separation incentives and launching investigations into staff members.