Conyers wants Haiti relief official demoted over diversity deficit

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to demote the official coordinating Haiti relief efforts for not having enough minority staffers.

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman sent a letter to Clinton on Thursday after Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, showed up at a meeting with the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus without any African American staffers in tow.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I was alarmed and chagrined to learn that none of the approximately dozen staff he brought with him were African American,” Conyers wrote in the letter. “This is so serious an error in judgment that it warrants his immediate demotion to a subordinate position at AID.”

Conyers is set to lead a congressional delegation to Haiti on Friday, his first visit to the island country since a massive earthquake destroyed much of the impoverished nation.

The State Department did not comment on the letter when contacted for reaction.

In an interview with The Hill, Conyers explained that he didn't ask for Shah's ousting because he "doesn't want him to lose his job working on Haiti, I just want him to get some diversity in there, that's all."

The lack of minority US AID staffers would "suggest there are no black people qualified to deal with Haiti," Conyers explained. 

In the letter, Conyers expressed alarm that none of the "approximately dozen" staff members with Shah were African Americans.

He also said that minorities have long been under-represented in key State positions

Here is the text of the letter in full:

Dear Secretary Clinton:

As you know, the 42 member Congressional Black Caucus met with Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. AID yesterday to discuss the crisis in Haiti. I was alarmed and chagrined to learn that none of the approximately dozen staff he brought with him were African American. This is so serious an error in judgement that it warrants his immediate demotion to a subordinate position at AID. It is well known  that there has long been an under-representation of minorities in key positions within the State Department. I am confident this Administration will immediately begin addressing this problem.

I look forward to meeting with you on this matter.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
Member of Congress

This story was updated at 3:18 p.m.