Yesterday, the chairmen of two House committees posted a joint letter requesting that the Coast Guard make two officials available for interviews concerning complaints of harassment and retaliation at the Coast Guard Academy.
The request, which came from Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Bennie G. Thompson, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, calls for the transcribed interviews to be completed no later than Sept. 18, 2019. The committees want to hear from Dr. Kurt Colella, the academy’s dean of academics, and Rear Adm. Anthony J. Vogt, commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
In the letter, the congressmen write that “the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Homeland Security have been investigating the handling of complaints of harassment and retaliation at the Coast Guard Academy as well as the academy’s responses to disparities identified in the Equity Scorecard review. However, our investigation has been repeatedly delayed by the Coast Guard’s lack of transparency.”
On June 13, 2018, the committees first requested “all documents, including convening authority memoranda, investigative reports, panel sheets, final action memoranda, and post-investigation talking points, regarding allegations of harassment or bullying made by any student or faculty member at the academy during the past three years, the results of any investigations conducted to examine these allegations, and the terms of any settlements reached.”
Cummings and Thompson said in the letter that on “July 13, 2018, the Coast Guard produced approximately 70 pages of heavily redacted documents. The Coast Guard stated in its cover letter accompanying the documents that, due to the Freedom of Information Act, it was “obligated to withhold release of predecisional and deliberative records, as well as those records that would constitute invasion of personal privacy if released.”
The congressmen added that “we are deeply troubled by what appear to be repeated efforts by the Coast Guard to impede our investigation of the handling of allegations of harassment and retaliation at the Coast Guard Academy. We request that both Dean Colella and Rear Admiral Vogt appear for transcribed interviews no later than September 18, 2019. If either individual fails to appear as requested, we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance.”