DOJ Employees in Ferguson and Trayvon Unit Used Taxpayer Cash for Airfare, Dentist Visits, and Dinners at Emeril's
Justice Department employees in the DOJ Community Relations Service have reported gross mismanagement and corruption to Attorney General Loretta Lynch -- but she has taken no action to investigate the problems.
The Community Relations Service has been at the center of high-profile, racially charged controversies involving the Justice Department, including the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore and the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida.
Multiple DOJ sources report to PJ Media a culture of incompetence and political decision-making by managers in the Justice Department component. The complaints also allege the use of federal money for personal travel, including one Atlanta manager flying to see a dentist in his hometown of Miami, and a Dallas manager flying to New Orleans on tax dollars to dine at Emeril Lagasse's restaurant in New Orleans.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch was first notified of the waste, corruption, and mismanagement inside the Community Relations Service in a January 11, 2016, letter from employees obtained by PJ Media. Lynch has taken no action.
The letter obtained by PJ Media states:
It is with great sadness that we, employees of the Community Relations Service, are writing to request immediate intervention to address what we believe to be a failure of Agency leadership in addressing the systemic abuse of power, fraud, waste, abuse, retaliation, bullying, [and] discrimination.
The Justice Department Community Relations Service (CRS) was founded in 1964, originally intended to be an intermediary between contested sides in racially charged disputes. In recent years, however, CRS has been criticized for taking sides in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, and Sanford, Florida. For example:
-- A report claimed that CRS helped facilitate bus transportation for protesters to attend a rally to protest the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford.
-- In Ferguson, CRS was criticized for appearing to take sides rather than serving as an impartial intermediary. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Ferguson after the riots and made statements that reinforced this perceived bias.
Employees have complained about the personal travel of Thomas Battles. The director of southeastern states for the DOJ, Battles makes in excess of $133,000 in salary and benefits in the Atlanta office of CRS. But DOJ employees have complained that Battles is using federal dollars for personal travel from his office in Atlanta to Miami, his hometown. The DOJ employees have complained that Battles makes taxpayer-funded travel to Miami approximately 24 times a year to visit his family -- and also to attend to personal affairs such as visiting his favorite dentist for teeth cleanings. Regional CRS employees in the Miami office purportedly are not even aware of Battles being in Florida when these taxpayer-funded visits occur.