In a move of bipartisan cooperation, the Oversight Committee called for federal official Rafael Moure-Eraso to resign following allegations of severe mismanagement, The Hill reports.
The Committee released an 84-page report on Thursday, detailing how the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), under Moure-Eraso’s leadership, had become an “agency in crisis,” unable to adequately function according to its mandate.
The CSB is an independent agency, which is charged with investigating general and specific chemical accidents and determining their root cause at fixed industrial facilities. Investigative staff include chemical and mechanical engineers, and industry specialists.
Owing to the hostile work environment Moure-Eraso allegedly created, at least nine experienced employees left, dragging out investigations and endangering public safety. The details of the report highlighted consistent failure of CSB to cooperate with investigations, including retaliation against whistleblowers.
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According to the report, “Moure-Eraso and Horowitz have mismanaged investigations to the detriment of public safety in certain industries. This gross mismanagement resulted in the waste of taxpayer dollars.”
One of the employees described CSB as a “ghost town,” because so many workers had left the agency due to constant, heavy-handed badgering and repeated attempted firings. One of the former board members in particular held board meetings in the ladies’ room to avoid harassment.
Yet despite the allegations and lengthy accompanying report, Moure-Eraso justified the delay of investigations, arguing that, “We are a very small agency charged with a huge mission of investigating far more accidents than we have the resources to tackle,” he said.
The chairman of the Oversight Committee, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, was unsatisfied with that answer. “You really need to ask whether or not in your last year, you can really undo the damage of your first five,” Issa said.
If the issue is not resolved by the end of the week, Issa intends to issue a subpoena with a one-week deadline, with the consequence of non-compliance being contempt and referral for criminal prosecution.
When questioned about whether he’d leave his position, Moure-Eraso said, “My brain is fried. I don’t want to have to think or talk about this anymore.”
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