Taylor Johnson, a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower, testified Thursday that the “retaliation” against her for disclosing gross mismanagement, fraud and waste in a controversial visa program was so bad, she was told she couldn’t “carry or own a personal weapon,” a violation of her 2nd Amendment rights. Worse yet, she almost lost custody of her one-year-old child when a social worker was erroneously told that she had been terminated over a criminal offense.
Johnson, a senior special agent in the DHS Investigations division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified at a Senate hearing Thursday alongside other whistleblowers from several other agencies who claim to have faced similar reprisals.
Speaking before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson told lawmakers she ran into trouble after investigating the fraud-ridden EB-5 program, which offers visas to investors.
Via Fox News:
She said she looked into the program over concerns about security risks, questioning whether visas were being approved with little scrutiny.
But Johnson said her managers began to hear complaints about her queries. Soon, she was removed from the investigation, and the case was closed.
From there, it got worse.
Johnson told the Senate Homeland Security Committee her “weapon and credentials” were taken, her government vehicle was confiscated, and her access to the building where she worked and government databases was revoked.Further, she said, “I was told I couldn’t even carry or own a personal weapon, which is a constitutional rights violation.”
Johnson also asserted that when a social worker tried to verify her employment, the worker was told Johnson had been terminated over a “criminal offense.”
Choking up, Johnson testified, “I almost lost my 1-year-old-child.”
She wasn’t terminated, though. Instead, Johnson said she was told to report to another building that houses inmates and processes parolees. She said she was “held a hostage by my own agency.”
A DHS spokeswoman said they do not comment on “specific personnel matters” when asked for comment on Johnson’s claims. But the official claimed that the department takes whistleblower protection “very seriously.”
Whistleblower complaints of retaliation have skyrocketed during the Obama years.
Complaints of retaliation against whistleblowers in the federal government are increasing. The Office of Special Counsel said it has experienced an “unprecedented rise” in its caseload, with 5,200 complaints filed in fiscal 2014, a 17 percent increase from the previous year and a 30 percent rise from three years ago.
The VA is the leading source of complaints filed with the Office of Special Counsel, with 1,504 cases in fiscal 2014. The Defense Department is next, with 1,365 cases last year. The Department of Homeland Security is third, with 489.
In August of 2014, 47 of Obama’s own 73 inspectors general wrote to Congress complaining about this administration’s refusal to be transparent and open.