ACRU

DOJ Employees in Ferguson and Trayvon Unit Used Taxpayer Cash for Airfare, Dentist Visits, and Dinners at Emeril’s

Economics - Money

This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published April 13, 2016 by PJ Media.

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:

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.

Justice Department employees also say that Battles used federal taxpayer time and travel in his successful campaign for “Senior Grand Vice Polemarch,” or head, of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

His personal biography states:

Brother Battles is a social justice leader who put civil rights as a top priority. He was intimately involved in the Trayvon Martin case and will always fight to ensure that Kappa Alpha Psi is a national leader when it comes to protecting our young men and their families. Brother Battles has been recognized regionally and nationally for his work, including the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Attorney General.

Brother Battles is a man of faith and family as well, with active roles at Agape International Ministries in Atlanta, GA, and his home church of Bethel Apostolic Temple in Miami, FL.

This alleged fraud and abuse has been reported to Attorney General Loretta Lynch as well as to the DOJ inspector general, but Lynch and the inspector general have done nothing.

DOJ employees have also described widespread corruption throughout the CRS by politically connected managers, including Synthia Taylor, a regional director based in Dallas. Justice Department employees have told PJ Media:

[Synthia Taylor travels] on federal funds to meet friends, boyfriends, go to 5-star restaurants and shop.

DOJ employees say that top officials in the Justice Department CRS, including Deputy Director Gilbert Moore, have approved this type of inappropriate travel for four years.

Based in Dallas, Synthia Taylor earns at least $135,000 per year in salary and benefits as a federal employee.

Other DOJ employees tell PJ Media that Taylor:

[U]sed a federal employee and federal funds to travel from Dallas, Texas via air, was paid per diem, and performed no government work witnessed by other federal employees. She went there to solicit a job for her daughter with the State Department.

This same employee was with her in New Orleans where there was no work performed but a 5 minute meeting then to Emeril’s restaurant and shopping on government time.

Judicial Watch obtained documents showing that Deputy Director Gilbert Moore from the Community Relations Service was intimately connected with the protests in Sanford, Florida.

The Justice Department inspector general has still not interviewed CRS employees familiar with this —- and with other misconduct —- occurring within the Community Relations Service.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has never responded to the letters regarding the corruption within the CRS. Until now, nobody outside of the Justice Department was aware of the complaints of misconduct and waste of taxpayer money.