Report unearths new concerns about DHS IG Cuffari’s past

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A new investigative report explores some recently discovered potholes along the Department of Homeland Security IG's career path—questionable actions that occurred long before his failure to explain or rectify the disappearance of Jan. 6 2021 Secret Service texts.

The besieged Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph V. Cuffari, this week got another dent in his armor.

For months, Cuffari has been lambasted for botching—or, as critics allege, actively interfering with—ongoing probes into the actions of DHS’s Secret Service unit in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Intense criticism has come with months of revelations of the IG’s stumbles in scrutinizing the presidential security force—including an inexplicable failure to try to root out agents’ missing cell phone text messages, or even to publicly report them missing.

This week, the Washington Post has published an investigative report on something that could spell even more problems for the IG: Cuffari’s checkered behavior leading up to his securing his job. The report follows a prior investigative piece, published by the Post in August, that painted a devastating picture of the IG and his staff purposely blunting—with cheerleading from a handful of GOP lawmakers—their own probe into the Secret Service.

In one potentially damaging new revelation about Cuffari's career, for example, the Post notes that to gain confirmation he testified before the Senate that a federal watchdog panel had cleared him for his post. Yet now an unnamed insider on the panel tells reporters this claim was not true.

In another possible blot on his record, the exposé unearths a little-noticed ethics violation Cuffari committed on a job he held in Arizona, according to a past employer cited in a long-buried government finding.

The Washington Post piece also notes that to buttress his executive-level bona fides, Cuffari frequently emphasized to colleagues and employers alike that he had earned a Ph.D.—yet the doctorate appears to have been the product of a known “diploma mill” institution.

Against these demerits, the report allows that a number of Cuffari’s boosters continue to hold him in high esteem. However, it is possible that, like the general public until recent months, those who vouch for him now and did in the past had yet to gain access to his full story—including factual, derogatory information about him. The piece also notes that several key Democratic lawmakers who originally voted to confirm him are now urging him to step down.

President Biden, who has the power to remove inspectors general, to date has made no move to do so. Cuffari has indicated to his staff that he has no intention of voluntarily stepping down.

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