ICE Chief of Staff Resigns: Denies 'Lewd' Behavior
The chief of staff for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office has resigned, following allegations of "lewd" conduct.
Suzanne Barr, who worked with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she was governor of Arizona, denied the charges contained in a lawsuit filed against DHS and the secretary, claiming she was resigning to avoid tarnishing the reputation of ICE and prevent a distraction from interfering with the work of the agency.
The lawsuit alleges a "frat house atmosphere" at ICE.
The resignation comes nearly three weeks after Barr went on leave over the allegations. The questions about Barr's conduct were first raised in a lawsuit filed by an ICE official against Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano -- the lawsuit, which alleged discrimination and retaliation, listed among the complaints that Barr cultivated a "frat-house"-style work environment.
That accusation was supplemented by two affidavits recounting incidents allegedly involving Barr in 2009.
In the affidavits, one of the ICE employees claimed that in October 2009, while in a discussion about Halloween plans, the individual witnessed Barr turn to a senior ICE employee and say: "You a sexy" (expletive deleted).
"She then looked at his crotch and asked, 'How long is it anyway?'" according to the affidavit.
"Several employees laughed nervously," the affidavit said. The names of the workers making the claims were redacted.
The other account recalled a trip to Colombia in late 2009, attended by Morton, Barr and Ray Parmer, who is ICE special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans.
The account said Parmer and Barr were "drinking heavily" at the house of the deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy there. It said Parmer took the BlackBerry of another employee, Peter Vincent, and sent "lewd messages" to Barr.
The affidavit went on to say: "During this party, Suzanne Barr approached me and offered to" perform oral sex.
In her letter to Morton, Barr defended herself and said the accusations are not true.
"With time I am confident that the truth will prevail. The allegations against me are unfounded and without any merit, and I am confident that my reputation will be restored," she wrote. "I am equally confident that the agency will continue to flourish and grow. The men and women who risk their lives will continue to enjoy great success and I hope that my resignation will allow them to again focus on that which is most important."
A real party girl, that one. And how much do you want to bet her "resignation" was engineered in Chicago at Obama campaign headquarters?
The Department of Justice is trying to get the lawsuit squelched on the basis that there was no claim of retaliation. One thing is sure: the Obama administration would like this matter to go away and not bother them until after the election.