FEMA official being investigated for sexual misconduct

Author: CBS News
Corey Coleman (Photo via CBS News/FEMA.gov)

CBS News’ Jeff Pegues confirms that the former top personnel officer at the Federal Emergency Management Agency is being investigated for widespread sexual harassment. According to an internal FEMA report, Corey Coleman, who was in charge of FEMA’s personnel department from 2011 until June 2018, is alleged to have hired college friends and women he encountered on online dating sites, and then, he is accused of transferring some of those women into departments where his friends worked, so that his friends could have sex with them.

The Washington Post first reported the details of the internal investigation. FEMA Administrator Brock Long called allegations against FEMA’s former chief of personnel are “deeply disturbing,” and he said in a statement that he had “no choice” but to request further investigation by the DHS office of the Inspector General.

“These allegations are deeply disturbing and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at FEMA,” Long said in the statement.

Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who led the agency from 2009 to 2017, told CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe that he was surprised by the allegations.

“If you had given me the names of five or six people who’d been accused of sexual harassment, and he was on the list, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Fugate said in a phone conversation. “I just couldn’t picture it.”

“It’s extremely upsetting,” Fugate added. “To me it was totally out of character. If I’d heard that there was an inkling of this — I’m trying to associate what the story is with the person I worked with.”

Most of Fugate’s interactions with Feldman involved the challenges of hiring personnel and the length of time it took to hire people. “We spent a lot of time trying to shorten that process,” he told O’Keefe.

Another senior FEMA official told O’Keefe that Coleman had been hired from the Secret Service into Human Resources at FEMA. This official received no complaints about Coleman in the two years they worked together.

“As someone who worked with this guy, you feel like a schmuck now reading what he might have done. It’s a personal f- you to me and a lot of others. There’s a feeling like, ‘Really? You were put in this job and you did this?'”

The official is concerned that partisanship may enter the investigation, too. At the point, though, the chairman and ranking member of one of the investigating committees in Congress responded similarly to the allegations.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, called the revelations “deeply alarming” and said his committee would pursue the issue and ensure any federal employees who engaged in harassment and misconduct would be held accountable.

“Any agency employee, much less the top human resources official, engaging in pervasive harassment, bullying, and gross misconduct is disturbing and enraging,” he said in a statement. “It is equally concerning this behavior was allowed to continue for so long.”

Ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, called for hearings on the matter and condemned the officials involved. “Today’s report reveals that one of FEMA’s top human resources officials—whose job it was to secure a safe and stable work environment—abused his subordinates by demanding sexual favors and then punishing or rewarding employees based on whether they complied with or rejected his demands,” Cummings wrote in a statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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