House Democrats are demanding documents as part of an investigation into Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari's handling of the office.

House Democrats are demanding documents as part of an investigation into Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari's handling of the office. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

House Democrats pen fiery letter to embattled DHS inspector general demanding documents

The ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Accountability and Homeland Security demanded documents from the DHS IG related to a court settlement with a former deputy inspector general after repeated requests remained unfulfilled. 

Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., issued a new ultimatum to embattled Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari calling for documents surrounding a $1.17 million court settlement in a contentious Jan. 25 letter.

In the letter, Raskin and Thompson — the ranking members of the House Oversight and Accountability and Homeland Security committees — issued another request for documents related to their investigation of Cuffari’s management of the office after they said seven previous queries went unanswered by the OIG. 

“It is our duty to conduct investigations into allegations and evidence involving concerns about your flawed work products, troubling professional conduct, potential waste of taxpayer dollars and repeated failure to respond to congressional inquiries,” the letter said. “We are hopeful that this clarification will prevent any additional confusion regarding the status of the active and ongoing congressional investigation into your office.” 

The investigation follows a July 2023 settlement of $1.17 million to former deputy inspector general Jennifer Costello after Cuffari fired her and commissioned a $1.4 million, third-party investigation of Costello and two fellow employees that resulted in claims of divisive and unprofessional behavior. 

Costello later filed a lawsuit with the Merit Systems Protection Board and claimed the investigation was in retaliation into claims she made to Congress and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency about Cuffari’s handling of the OIG. 

Though Costello agreed to resign following the settlement, Raskin and Thompson’s letter notes that their committees began investigating shortly after and intensified following several revelations from the case. 

“The committees recently obtained documents indicating that only the Inspector General has delegated authority to sign settlement agreements to resolve ‘any matter to which DHS OIG is a party.’ Yet your Chief of Staff, Kristen Fredricks, signed this settlement, which was ‘the largest known settlement involving an employee from a federal office of inspector general,’” the letter said. “The documents reviewed by the committees found no ‘redelegation of IG authorities to the IG’s deputies or highest official in the office’ noted under negotiating or signing of settlement agreements authority, raising questions as to whether you followed the procedures established by your office.”

The letter also points to Cuffari’s deposition testimony with the MSPB, which “raises concerns about the integrity of your communications with Congress” after it claims that Cuffari failed to disclose that he had gone to two other IGs that declined to investigate before he settled on law firm WilmerHale.

Raskin and Thompson again called for all documents referring or relating to the proposed removal of Costello, all documents related to the settlement, all policies related to settlement approval and the source of settlement funding, documents related to any other settlements under Cuffari’s tenure, documents of any allegations raised by any DHS OIG employee of retaliatory behavior by Cuffari and all documents related to the WilmerHale investigation by Feb. 1. 

DHS OIG officials were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.