A Rep. Lucas-led fight convinces White House to back down



After fighting the Biden administration for more than a year over claims of whistleblower retaliation, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas got his wish…a new acting Inspector General at the Department of Commerce. He called it a win for good government.

As Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, he had campaigned to replace the acting IG over the committee’s claims there had been whistleblower retaliation. Roderick Anderson replaced Peggy Gustafson but that wasn’t enough to satisfy Rep. Lucas and the House Committee’s top Democrat, Zoe Lofgren of California.

The White House announced this week Anderson will be replaced by Jill Baisinger at the end of the month. Baisinger is the chief of staff for the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General and previously had been chief of staff for the State Department’s Inspector General’s office.

“In his letter the President cites our extensive bipartisan investigation into whistleblower retaliation in the Office of the Inspector General and made clear that he acted on our suggestion that no senior official within the OIG should lead the office. We’re pleased to see our call was heeded,” said Lucas and Lofgren in a statement.

“This is a win for good government and evidence of the value of strong bipartisan Congressional oversight. We’re looking forward to working with acting IG Baisinger as she corrects the significant issues that the Committee uncovered during its investigation. It is our continued hope that a permanent IG will be nominated soon to bring long term stability to this office.”

As the publication Government Executive explained, Anderson had also been accused of being a part of the whistleblower retaliation and other misconduct in the office—retaliation that led to the 15-month investigation by Rep. Lucas and the committee he leads. The same allegations led to the January resignation of Gustafson.

A full timeline of the Committee’s investigation follows:

April 5, 2023 – Letter notifying IG Gustafson that the Committee is investigating allegations of whistleblower retaliation and other misconduct.

June 6, 2023 – Letter requesting documents related to relevant personnel decisions.

June 15, 2023 – Letter demanding answers after evidence showed that the IG compromised whistleblower anonymity by sharing the June 6 letter.

July 7, 2023 – Follow-up letter on whistleblower disclosure as June 15 letter goes unanswered.

July 28, 2023 – Letter requesting withheld documents and further information about whistleblower disclosure.

July 31, 2023 – Follow-up letter requesting Commerce IG stop withholding documents related to the Committee’s investigation into allegations of misconduct.

March 19, 2024 – Letter to the President requesting the immediate replacement of the acting IG.