Washington – Rep. Joe Courtney and two fellow Democrats with jurisdiction over the Coast Guard have accused the service of a “lack of transparency” and demanded it turn over the information they have sought for months about allegations of racial discrimination at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.
Courtney, D-2nd District, and Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., asked Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz in June to provide them with “all documents, including authority memoranda, investigative reports, panel sheets, final action memoranda and post-investigation talking points” regarding allegations of harassment or bullying made by any student or faculty member of the academy during the past three years. The lawmakers also asked to see the results of any investigations the Coast Guard conducted as a result of those allegations.
The Coast Guard responded, releasing dozens of pages of documents, but not to the lawmakers’ satisfaction.
“After a review of these materials and discussions with Coast Guard staff, we lack a complete picture of how allegations of harassment and bullying at the Coast Guard Academy during the past three years have been handled,” the lawmakers wrote Schultz on Friday. “To date, our investigation has been impeded by an ongoing lack of transparency from the Coast Guard. We strongly urge the Coast Guard to act in good faith to provide all documents requested.”
The lawmakers say materials pertaining to at least one of the allegations still have not been provided to them, and the documents that have been produced “still contain extensive and inappropriate redactions.”
The lawmakers gave Schultz two weeks from the date of the letter, or Nov. 16, to comply with their longstanding request for information.
“The Coast Guard has received the letter from Representatives Cummings, Thompson and Courtney and is working to address their questions and concerns,” the academy said in an email. “The Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Academy are committed to maintaining a culture of respect and take all claims of discrimination and harassment seriously. We will continue to cooperate with the representatives to ensure that the Coast Guard Academy has effective processes in place to respond to any allegations of discrimination.”
Thompson is the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee and Cummings is the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Operations Committee. Both panels have jurisdiction over the Coast Guard and Thompson and Cummings are likely to be promoted to lead those committees if Democrats take the U.S. House in Tuesday’s elections.
Courtney is co-chairman of the Coast Guard Caucus in the U.S. House.
The Coast Guard Academy has drawn fire for poor grades on the “Equity Scorecard,” a study by the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California that tracks academic data, including graduation rates, by race, ethnicity and gender.
The Equity Scorecard reported that “black/African American cadets have been consistently less likely to graduate than the all-cadet average.”
The scorecard also said black cadets suffered from a disproportionately high share of disciplinary actions.
In addition, media reports surfaced last summer of misconduct against black cadets at the Academy.