Democratic senators call for investigation into USAID aides over controversial comments
Posted On June 18, 2020
Seven Democratic senators on Wednesday demanded an investigation into reported homophobic and Islamophobic statements made by Trump appointees to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The calls for an investigation follow concerns raised by USAID staffers about the political appointees, whose controversial views have been unearthed by reporters in recent weeks.
“It is of the utmost importance that personnel in leadership positions at the Department of State and USAID are above reproach in espousing the values of the American people worldwide and showing respect for their colleagues,” the senators wrote in a letter to acting USAID Administrator John Barsa. “It is equally important that employees hear from their leadership at the USAID an unequivocal commitment to addressing institutional prejudices.”
The letter singles out Mark Kevin Lloyd, USAID’s religious freedom adviser, and USAID’s new deputy White House liaison, Merritt Corrigan, for a history of offensive statements.
In social media posts, Lloyd reportedly called Islam “a barbaric cult” and accused President Barack Obama of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. ProPublica reported that Corrigan wrote online that the United States is in the clutches of a “homo-empire” that pushes a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.”
POLITICO reported last week that USAID was thrown into internal turmoil by the recent appointments of Lloyd and Corrigan. Staff members urged Barsa to condemn the comments, but the acting administrator defended the aides.
Spokespeople for USAID did not immediately return a request for comment.
“The appointment of Lloyd and Corrigan risks alienating the hardworking staff at USAID — not only women, Muslims and members of the LGBT community — but any employee that is justifiably dismayed that people who hold these views were appointed to represent the world’s premier international development agency,” the letter read.
Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont signed the letter, which was sent on Wednesday.
ProPublica first reported Corrigan’s new position on June 5. Lloyd assumed his new role on May 26.
By Max Cohen