Report: Interior Dept law enforcement chief 'unprofessional'

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2017 4:45 PM
Report: Interior Dept law enforcement chief 'unprofessional'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department's law enforcement director "demonstrated a pattern of unprofessional behavior" by touching and hugging female employees and making flirtatious remarks, the agency's inspector general said in a report released Monday.

Tim Lynn, Interior's director of law enforcement and security, acted inappropriately toward at least six female employees, the report said. Lynn acknowledged touching the employees but said that was in his nature and that he had not meant to make anyone uncomfortable, the report said.

The report has been referred to an Interior official who oversees policy, management and budget, but it was unclear whether any action has been taken. An employee at the law enforcement office said Monday that Lynn was working on temporary assignment in North Dakota and was unavailable for comment.

The report by the inspector general, the agency's internal watchdog, follows reports it issued last year alleging that sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct were rampant at national parks across the country, including at iconic sites such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

Superintendents at Yosemite and the Grand Canyon retired after allegations of sexual harassment and hostile work environments were reported to Congress. The chief of the Canaveral National Seashore in Florida is on paid leave amid similar allegations.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said officials were reviewing the inspector general's report to determine appropriate action.

"The department takes allegations of inappropriate behavior and retaliation very seriously and is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where every employee is treated with respect," said Megan Bloomgren.

The report said at least one employee complained that Lynn retaliated against her after she filed a complaint about his behavior with Harry Humbert, a deputy assistant Interior secretary who oversees Lynn's office. Humbert counseled Lynn about his behavior and assigned Lynn a coach to help him develop his management style, the report said.

Former National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis retired in January after a 40-year career. Jarvis was called before Congress last summer to respond to the harassment allegations.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for Jarvis to step down, saying he had not held employees accountable for their misconduct, mismanagement or unethical behavior.

"These individuals face inadequate repercussions and in some cases are even promoted," Chaffetz said.

Jarvis told The Associated Press last fall that his retirement was not in response to demands by Chaffetz or other lawmakers, but that his term as director automatically ends when a new president takes office.

Sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct also plague the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department, the oversight panel said.