In Letter to Key Senators, Chair Grijalva Flags Ethical Concerns With Trump Nomination to Head NOAA – Calls for Committee Hearing Prior to Senate Vote

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) yesterday sent a letter to Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, urging them to hold a hearing on President Trump’s nomination of Barry Myers to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before the full Senate holds a vote. Among other issues, Grijalva flags Myers’ financial conflicts of interest and widely reported concerns about a culture of workplace harassment at AccuWeather, Inc., where he was CEO for many years until his Jan. 1 departure.

The full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2PTfTrP.

An Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs investigation of AccuWeather’s workplace culture was remarkably critical of Myers’ tenure, as reported by the Washington Post on April 12:

“Over two dozen witnesses spanning many different departments and in positions ranging from administrative support to senior management described unlawful sexual harassment that occurred at the company,” the report says. “This sexual harassment was so severe and pervasive, that some female employees resigned.”

[. . .]

The investigation also found AccuWeather “did not take reasonable action to prevent and remedy harassing conduct.” The report cites a policy manual that directs concerned employees to file a complaint with the company’s “Ombudsman Committee” — which the investigation determined “did not exist and had not been active for over two years.”

Myers has an equally troubling record of financial conflicts of interest, including his longstanding efforts to privatize the National Weather Service, which provides free weather updates to the public and competes with AccuWeather’s business model. Despite these and other serious concerns, the Republican majority on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee advanced Myers’s nomination to the full Senate without a hearing on April 3.

As Grijalva points out in the letter, NOAA has more than 11,000 employees, many of whom “work in remote locations around the globe and at sea on research vessels and are particularly vulnerable to harassment and assault.” The agency, he writes, should be led by someone with relevant scientific expertise, which Myers clearly lacks.

Grijalva calls on the senators to schedule a hearing on Myers’ nomination before the full Senate votes on whether to confirm him as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and as NOAA Administrator.

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