On August 7, the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s Hatewatch program linked a staffer at the Bureau of Energy Resources (State/ENR) to a white nationalist organization in the Washington, D.C. area. Hatewatch alleged in its report that this individual “oversaw the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online.”
We asked the State Department for a comment beyond what was already reported (that the agency is an “inclusive organization”). An agency spokesperson did confirm that this individual is employed by the agency as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources. The Department further stated that it cannot comment on personnel issues but “is committed to providing an inclusive workplace.”
Reports indicate that the individual is a “foreign affairs officer“, a Civil Service position in the 0130 Foreign Affairs series. These positions are typically located in the DC area, and though may involved occasional travel, it is not a rotational position. Incumbents to these positions are normally required to “obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance” among other federal service requirements.
Barely 24 hours after the Hatewatch report broke, Politico, citing “two sources familiar with the situation” reported that the State Department has put the employee on leave following reports that “he has been an active member of a white supremacist group for more than five years.”
We’re waiting to see what the State Department will do with this case following the reported leave. A 2017 article on federal employees’ rights notes that “At a minimum, before taking an adverse action like termination, an agency must issue a notice to the employee identifying the charge(s) against them. The employee has the right to see the evidence against them and the right to reply to the charge(s), as well as the right to have counsel represent them.”
Unlike political appointees who can be fired at anytime, career federal employees are generally afforded workplace protection. Recent media reports also show the fallout from recent high profile terminations. In one case, former Special Agent Peter Strzok firing resulted in a complaint alleging violations of Strzok’s First Amendment and due process rights, as well as a violation of the Privacy Act concerning the release of the text messages. Similarly, on August 8, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe also filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over his demotion and dismissal from the FBI. The complaint alleges that the Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s actions violated both McCabe’s First Amendment and due process rights. See the common thread there? We expect both court cases will be lengthy and instructive.
As an aside, Mick “it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker” Mulvaney has a grand new idea on how to get rid of federal employees; which should give people some pause whether they’re with Agriculture or anywhere else in the federal government.
State Department suspends energy staffer linked to white supremacist group – POLITICO https://t.co/5OMFKQpCGV
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) August 8, 2019
We have determined that Matthew Q. Gebert, a U.S. State Department official since 2013, oversaw a Washington D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists in his home & published white nationalist propaganda online. https://t.co/koYxcjn47w
— Hatewatch (@Hatewatch) August 7, 2019
A State Dept. official has alleged involvement with white nationalist forums and was allegedly part of a white nationalist group in Washington, according to researchers from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” program. https://t.co/OuYJre4Ycn
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2019
Update: @UR_Ninja found that the State Dept official was a member of 2 far-right Discord servers. One of them is considered the most "elite" server in the alt-right. Prominent members include neo-Nazi fugitive Andrew Anglin. He was also a member of the server used to organize UTR https://t.co/YtyXPUq1rc
— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) August 7, 2019