House VA Committee Votes 22 – 1 to Subpoena VA over Documents Following Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct
WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.), released the following statement after for the first time since 2016, the Committee voted 22 – 1 to subpoena the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over their failure to address allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct properly and adequately within VA’s Office of Resolution Management, Diversity, and Inclusion (ORMDI). ORMDI is the office charged with preventing sexual harassment and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within VA.
“Unlike VA, when these brave whistleblowers came to my office to alert us of disturbing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at VA, I took them seriously. It’s unacceptable and abhorrent that the Department ignored these allegations. It took 45 days, and a personal call to Secretary McDonough, for the Department to treat these allegations with the urgency that they should’ve been treated with from day one,” said Chairman Bost. “Which is why under my leadership, the Committee moved today to subpoena the Department over their failure to stop sexual harassment and fully comply with Congresses investigation. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for standing with me – and the thousands of women who have unfortunately been the victim of sexual harassment – to do our duty as Members of Congress to hold those at fault accountable. This behavior has no place in the federal government. Zero tolerance means zero tolerance, and I’ll hold VA to that no matter how long it takes to find out who knew what, when they knew it, and why they didn’t stop it.”
In September, a VA ORMDI whistleblower used the Committee’s whistleblower portal to submit disturbing allegations of ORMDI senior leadership committing sexual harassment and misconduct. A second VA ORMDI whistleblower informed the Committee that they received numerous unwanted sexually suggestive and aggressive messages from multiple VA employees, including their senior manager, ORMDI Chief of Staff Archie Davis, over the course of a year. When the whistleblower did not agree to consensually engage sexually with Mr. Davis, Mr. Davis’s attitude towards the whistleblower allegedly changed and the senior manager began bad mouthing the whistleblower to ORMDI leadership. As such, Chairman Bost made public the Committee’s investigation into the VA ORMDI office and after seven weeks of no action, on the same day the investigation was made public, the Department acted against the alleged individuals. The next day, the Biden administration Assistant Secretary responsible for ORMDI, Ms. Gina Grosso, announced that she would be leaving the Department. Since the Committee’s investigation was made public, several other whistleblowers have approached the Committee, submitting troubling allegations about ORMDI and its leadership; and in late December, while under investigation and a main suspect in the allegations, Harvey Johnson, VA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for ORMDI, announced he would be retiring.
Due to VA’s failure to hold its leaders accountable, the Committee continues to conduct its own investigation to ensure all VA leaders are held fully accountable and to determine if legislative action must be taken to ensure employees at VA are safe from harassment.
To read more about the Committee’s investigation into VA’s ORMDI office, click here.