Accusations of sexual misconduct and nepotism have come out against former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel chief Corey Coleman just weeks after Coleman resigned in June. The Washington Post reports that Coleman, whose $177,150 salaried, senior-level role began in 2011, allegedly used his position to hire and promote both personal friends and women with whom he had a personal interest, despite their lack of qualifications. He also allegedly instituted practices that placed certain female employees in close proximity to certain male employees for sexual purposes.
The Post reports that it received information about Coleman's behavior from a detailed summary of a seven-month investigation into complaints about the work environment. The investigation was carried out by the staff of FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long.
"What we uncovered was a systemic problem going back years," Long told the Post.
Coleman is believed to have hired friends, college fraternity brothers, and women he met at bars and through online dating. He is additionally believed to have circumvented official channels to promote his employees. Coleman is also accused of transferring some of the women he hired to various departments and regional offices so that his male friends could attempt to begin sexual encounters with them. Several of those involved still work at FEMA.
The investigation also alleges a sexual relationship between Coleman and two of his subordinates, one in 2015 and one in 2017. The women supposedly accompanied Coleman on work trips. The first woman told investigators that Coleman attempted to retaliate against her after she tried to end the relationship. She said she managed to keep her job by telling Coleman there was a possibility of them being together in the future. The second woman told investigators that Coleman created a new position for her when she expressed that she wanted to leave the agency—she admitted that she was unqualified for the position.
According to Long, some of Coleman's suspected activities could be grounds for criminal charges.
Long also asserted that the problems don't end with Coleman's resignation. He himself claimed to have sent several harassment complaints to the inspector general at FEMA's overseeing federal department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FEMA officials confirmed to the Post that DHS merely referred the complaints back to FEMA. They also confirmed that several complaints were made against Coleman before Long's arrival at the agency.
Long called for further investigation from DHS in a statement that was released on Monday. He also announced the establishment of an Office of Professional Responsibility to "ensure expeditious, fair, and objective follow-up and resolution of allegations of employee misconduct."
"The biggest problem I may solve here may be the eradication of this cancer," he told the Post. "How many complaints were not heard? I've got to make sure we have a safe working environment for our employees."