Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) are pressuring Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kiran Ahuja over two senior hires that both have a disturbing history of sexual misconduct while serving in previous posts.
On Wednesday, the two senators sent a letter to Ahuja calling the hires “particularly problematic.” They are demanding details of OPM’s vetting practice for hiring new employees.
The two new senior hires are Frederick Tombar III and Douglas Glenn. Both men were allegedly forced out of previous jobs for sexual misconduct during investigations into sexual harassment at work.
Tombar reportedly resigned in 2015 from his position as executive director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation after a probe concluded that he harassed two subordinates.
He denied the accusations. Despite that fact, Louisiana officials eventually paid almost $90,000 to one of his accusers who sued the state.
The Washington Post reported that he is still on the job at OPM, serving as a senior leader in the retirement services division.
Frederick Tombar III resigned his post as a Louisiana housing official amid a probe that found he'd sexually harassed two women. OPM, the government's personnel agency, hired him as a senior leader anyway. By @ReinLWapo https://t.co/mZ452VN1Ef
— Juliet Eilperin (@eilperin) February 2, 2023
Glenn was booted as the chief financial officer of OPM days after a Pentagon investigation found that he had behaved in sexually and racially offensive manners during his time as the Defense Department’s acting comptroller.
Glenn denied the findings of the investigation as well.
“OPM is not just any Federal agency; it is the Federal agency charged with coordinating and implementing human capital management and prescribing suitability, fitness, and credentialing standards for Federal employment,” wrote the chairwoman and top Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on government operations and border management.
“Given the Subcommittee’s longstanding commitment to ensuring the Federal Government is free from racial or sexual insensitivity, sexual harassment, or any other form of inexcusable behavior, we have a responsibility to ask appropriate questions regarding whether OPM is failing to serve as a role model on matters of employee vetting and workplace safety,” Sinema and Lankford wrote concerning the hires.
They also pointed out that the appointments of Tombar and Glenn are even more troubling given the role OPM plays in establishing personnel standards for the rest of the federal government.
The senators want to know when OPM became aware of the misconduct allegations against the men. Ahuja’s staff has been summoned to appear before the senators to brief lawmakers on the particulars of how Tombar and Glenn were selected and hired.
“We are aware of the reports that senior officials with a history of sexual harassment have been hired at the agency, and we expect that to come up during the hearing, in addition to many other topics,” said a committee aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Ahuja has also been called to appear before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. It is probable that she will face a torrent of questions from lawmakers about the department’s questionable hires as part of a wide-ranging hearing on federal workforce issues.
OPM is staying mum on the hires but did confirm to the Washington Post that it had launched an internal review of its hiring practices.
The agency manages the 2.1 million civil service employees for the federal government. It coordinates recruiting and hiring, as well as managing the administration of benefits to 2.7 million retired federal employees.
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