Housing inspector general resigns amid pressure after scathing report

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced her resignation on Tuesday amid calls for her ouster more than two months after a government report said she created a toxic work environment and at times retaliated against colleagues.

Laura Wertheimer, an Obama appointee, will step down on July 30, according to an internal letter to staff obtained by The Hill.

Her resignation comes a day after The Hill reported on increasing pressure for her removal.

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Wertheimer, who has served as the agency's inspector general for nearly seven years, said she was leaving her post following the departure of FHFA Director Mark CalabriaMark CalabriaHousing inspector general resigns amid pressure after scathing report Biden under increasing pressure to fire housing inspector general MORE, who was fired by President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE last week after the Supreme court struck down a provision protecting him from being fired for anything other than misconduct.

“With the departure of Director Calabria, I believe President Biden should have the opportunity to fill both the FHFA Director and IG positions with his own nominees. For that reason, I am writing to let you know that I have made the decision to leave this position, effective July 30, 2021,” Wertheimer wrote in her letter to colleagues.

An independent investigation conducted by the committee of inspectors general concluded in April that Wertheimer “abused her authority” and undermined the integrity of her office when she fought back against employees who cooperated with a congressional investigation.

The report recommended that Wertheimer's actions warranted “consideration of substantial disciplinary action, up to and including removal.”

Emmet FloodEmmet FloodHousing inspector general resigns amid pressure after scathing report Biden under increasing pressure to fire housing inspector general Report finds federal housing agency official 'abused her authority' MORE, a former Trump White House lawyer who is representing Wertheimer, told The Hill on Tuesday that Wertheimer “took stock of the situation” after Calabria was fired and decided it was a good time to leave her post as inspector general (IG).

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“IG Wertheimer served under three Presidents and for nearly seven years. She also served under two FHFA directors. Director Calabria departed last week in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision...and at that point she took stock of the situation and, considering her length of service, decided it was a good time to go,” Flood said in a statement.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee who previously called on Biden to replace Wertheimer, welcomed the news of her resignation.

“It’s about time. Inspectors general do important work across government to hold bad actors accountable and combat waste, fraud and abuse. Ms. Wertheimer neither embraced those duties nor set an example of how a government office should be run,” Grassley said in a statement.

“Whistleblower after whistleblower shared stories with my office about Ms. Wertheimer’s professional misconduct, personal ridicule of colleagues and ineffectual work practices. That’s not what our government needed, and it took longer than it should have for this change. Any others who engaged in misconduct must also go,” he added.

He urged Biden to nominate a new inspector general “as soon as practical,” adding that the “FHFA has been without a qualified IG for far too long already.”

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Much of the pressure for Wertheimer to step down, or for Biden to fire her, stemmed from her treatment of colleagues who participated in a congressional investigation, referring to such employees as “Boris and Natasha,” the spy villains of “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends."

She also called an employee who cooperated with the congressional probe a “weasel” in front of other staff members, and bought and distributed the children’s book “Weasels” in her office, according to the April report.

 

Wertheimer’s resignation announcement comes the same day that the House is expected to pass a bill known as the “IG Independence and Empowerment Act,” which would mandate that inspectors general can only be removed for a specific cause, such as documented malfeasance, among other provisions.

The legislation is in response former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE's removal of multiple inspectors general, including watchdogs at the State Department and in the U.S. intelligence community.

Updated at 5:48 p.m.