Top political appointees at the State Department “harassed” career staffers whom they suspected were members of the supposed “deep state” or were purportedly “disloyal” to the Trump administration’s goals, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.
The report focuses on two political appointees in State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which handles U.S. policy at the United Nations and other multinational bodies.
Assistant secretary Kevin Moley and senior adviser Mari Stull are named in the report as being behind much of the chaos. The report details multiple incidents in which Stull allegedly “retaliated” against State Department employees.
Stull, a former food lobbyist who blogged about wine under the moniker “vino vixen,” allegedly accused career diplomats of belonging to the “Deep State” and of “undermining the President’s agenda.” The report cites Moley as saying that Stull was joking.
Career employees told the IG that Stull referred to them as “Obama holdovers,” “traitors,” or “disloyal” at other points, focusing on allegations that she retaliated against federal workers for their personal political beliefs.
At the same time, Stull allegedly favored employees who had contributed to Republican candidates, though the IG found no evidence that the Trump appointee took any action based on campaign contributions.
“The mere discussion of them raises significant concerns as to whether Ms. Stull was engaging in political activity while on duty,” the report reads.
“Ms. Stull accused the employee of trying to ‘thwart’ President Trump and undermine his agenda,” the document reads. “After the trip, many of the employee’s job responsibilities were taken away.”
The report alleges that Moley failed to prevent Stull from retaliating against employees for their supposed political beliefs. During his tenure, the report states, 50 out of 300 of the bureau’s employees departed.
Reports about problems at the bureau reached the press in June 2018, via an article in Foreign Policy which reported that Stull had compiled a “loyalty list” of employees. The report doesn’t corroborate that allegation, but it does reference a June 2018 Heavy.com article that quoted Stull calling the Foreign Policy story “a hit piece written in consort with leakers who want to malign this President and anyone associated with the Administration.”
Stull declined the IG’s request for an interview. Instead, after the investigation began, she purportedly sent a letter to the watchdog raising questions about “fraud, waste and abuse, as well as allegations that she had herself experienced retaliation as a result of her efforts to address these concerns.”
The report states that Stull declined to offer additional information. She left the State Department in January 2019.
Moley is still in his position. In the report’s recommendations section, the IG advises State to develop an “action plan” on managing the section, and to consider “disciplinary action.”
State accepted the recommendation on developing an action plan, and acknowledged that Stull’s departure moots the point regarding discipline. But for Moley, State wrote that it had “counseled” him regarding his leadership, and that it would consider further steps based on how the watchdog assesses his responses to the report.
In an appendix to the report providing his responses, Moley said that the actions described by the IG do not “represent the person I am or have ever been.”
Read the report here: