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Biden fires longtime railroad official after probe into toxic work environment

President Biden informed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Friday that he is firing Martin Dickman, the inspector general of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), on grounds of creating a hostile work environment, a source familiar told The Hill.

The termination, which Biden informed Johnson of by letter, comes after the president was presented with the findings of an investigation launched in January 2023 by the independent Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency after allegations against Dickman surfaced. 

The investigation found evidence that Dickman created a toxic work environment and engaged in abusive treatment, including using crude and inappropriate language like slurs, and belittling employees, according to the source.

Dickman, who was confirmed for the position in 1994 under the Clinton administration, will be placed on non-duty status of administrative leave effective immediately. On April 28, his employment will be terminated.

According to the source, Biden is set to designate Ben R. Wagner, the inspector general of the Tennessee Valley Authority, as acting inspector general of RRB. Wagner will keep his other role while serving as acting inspector general.

Under the Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2022, the president must notify Congress 30 days prior to removing an inspector general. The Biden administration concluded that given the issues surrounding the toxic work environment — leading to Dickman’s firing — there was a need to bring in independent leadership from outside RRB, which is why Wagner was selected, the source said.

The RRB office of the inspector general is responsible for conducting independent audits, reviews, and investigations. RRB, which is headquartered in Illinois, administers retirement-survivor pensions and unemployment-sickness benefits for railroad workers and their families, according to the agency.

The inspector general position requires a presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. 

Dickman’s firing marks the first time Biden has fired an inspector general for cause. 

The president has terminated the employment of other presidential-appointed and Senate-confirmed federal employees, including the former Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, in 2023 after an inspector general report found he misused a government vehicle and allegedly impersonated a law enforcement officer.

Biden also fired former Social Security Commissioner, Andrew Saul, in 2021 after he refused to resign and has since appointed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who was confirmed.

Source: The Hill

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