Top Dems demand answers from State Department after employees cite career concerns

Top Dems demand answers from State Department after employees cite career concerns
© Greg Nash

Democratic lawmakers are urging the State Department's inspector general to probe the department's personnel practices after several employees voiced concerns their careers were being stalled because of their past work under the Obama administration. 

"Our staffs have been made aware of credible allegations that the State Department has required high-level career civil servants, with distinguished records, serving administrations of both parties, to move to performing tasks outside their area of substantive expertise," Democratic Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelTrump’s arms export rules will undermine US security and risk human rights abuses State Dept: No answers in sonic attacks in Cuba, China Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (N.Y.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law Top Dem: EPA slowed ‘politically charged’ FOIA requests Top Dem displays posters of ‘guilty’ subjects in Mueller probe MORE (Md.), the ranking Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively, said in a letter obtained by CNN.

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"At the very least, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. At worst it may constitute impermissible abuse and retaliation." 
 
CNN first reported on Friday that several employees in the department were increasingly frustrated after they returned to State from high-level assignments only to be put on low-level jobs such as responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
 
Many of the employees who have been reassigned under Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonUS steps up its game in Africa, a continent open for business Matt Drudge shares mock ‘Survivor’ cover suggesting more White House officials will leave this summer 'Daily Show' trolls Trump over Pruitt's resignation MORE had worked in the offices of special envoys created during the Obama administration. Officials who previously worked in those offices, which Tillerson has done away with, have been assigned to clerical tasks they say do not match up with their previous assignments. 
 
Some of these employees claim that they may be victims of political retribution. 
 
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told CNN that employees were being assigned to FOIA work out of necessity, and politics had nothing to do with the move. 
 
"There is a job that needs to be done," she said. "It may not be a glamorous job, but it's an important one."