Maxine Waters Blasts Investigation into Sexual Harassment at FDIC

by Xara Aziz

Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) House Financial Services Committee criticized a third-party investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), arguing it disproportionately targets the agency’s current Democratic leader while neglecting his Republican predecessors.

In a statement on Thursday, Rep. Maxine Waters acknowledged the cultural deficiencies at the FDIC highlighted in the report by law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. However, she defended FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg, who is facing bipartisan pressure to resign.

“The Cleary report places the focus for ‘tone at the top’ solely on the Democratic chair under whose leadership the agency received the most favorable ratings from its employees, while it completely ignores the activities of the two previous Republican Chairs,” Waters said in a statement.

Waters also described the contents of the report as “troubling,” stating it “affirms that the FDIC needs to change its policies and programs to improve its workplace culture—particularly in the area of anti-sexual harassment.”

The FDIC responded on Thursday, rejecting claims that the Cleary Gottlieb report unfairly targeted the agency’s current leadership.

“The report makes clear that the workplace culture issues at the FDIC are long-standing. The report does not limit its findings to the current Chair,” Jonathan McKernan, co-chair of the special review committee overseeing the Cleary Gottlieb investigation, said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), the leading Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee’s Financial Institutions subcommittee, disagrees with Chairwoman Waters’ continued support for FDIC Chair Gruenberg. Foster called for Gruenberg’s resignation on Tuesday, citing his outrage over the documented sexual harassment and discrimination at the FDIC.

There have been disturbing reports of sexual harassment and a culture of fear at the FDIC for years, dating back to at least 2014. While a 2014 survey showed a slightly lower percentage of FDIC employees experiencing harassment compared to the government average, a recent independent investigation revealed a much more concerning reality.

This investigation found the FDIC fostered a workplace rife with sexual misconduct and discrimination. Employees reportedly faced a system where complaints weren’t taken seriously and there were few consequences for offenders. This has led to calls for the resignation of the FDIC Chair, though he has pledged to enact reforms.

The FDIC has proposed an action plan that includes creating a safe and anonymous reporting system for harassment and preventing bonuses for those found to have committed it. It remains to be seen if these efforts will be enough to address the deeply troubling issues raised by the investigation.

Related Posts

Crown App