In a recent congressional hearing, Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, the top watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), admitted that he regularly deletes text messages from his government-issued phone. The revelation that Cuffari unilaterally decided to purge his text messages comes after POGO and Congress requested records of Cuffari’s communications related to his office’s suppression of a report on sexual harassment at DHS. By deleting texts from his government phone, Cuffari likely violated DHS policy and may have broken federal records laws.
This is the latest development in Cuffari’s scandal-ridden tenure as inspector general, which has been defined by a pattern of undermining the oversight work of his staff and failing to carry out his duty to provide important information to Congress. Cuffari’s prior failures to live up to this mission include
- failing to promptly inform Congress about the Secret Service mass-deleting text messages that were sought in connection to a probe into the insurrection on January 6, 2021, in addition to quashing an investigative effort to recover those deleted texts;
- holding back the findings of a report showing that over 10,000 of the roughly 28,000 DHS law enforcement employees surveyed — more than one in three — said they’ve experienced sexual harassment or misconduct on the job; and
- scrubbing a report on domestic violence to remove any mention of 30 cases in which known domestic abusers working for DHS were allowed to keep their jobs and government-issued guns after the abuse was discovered.
Last year, Cuffari’s own staff sent a letter to President Joe Biden — who has the sole authority to remove an inspector general — calling for their boss’s removal and warning that “DHS OIG will continue to fail under his disastrous leadership.”
POGO doesn’t take firing an inspector general lightly, but time after time, Cuffari’s actions — and inaction — have called his independence and effectiveness as an inspector general into question. We need your help amping up the pressure on the White House to act now.