The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson reports: Twice, Raymond Jefferson’s service to his country left him in pain, agony and facing years of recovery. The first time was in 1995. The West Point grad was an Army officer in Okinawa for Special Forces training. When he realized a defective hand grenade was about to blow, he cupped it in his hand and held it against his leg so the shrapnel would not hit his comrades. Jefferson lost all five fingers on his left hand.
Powerful article by @JoeDavidsonWP abt my friend @USArmy veteran Ray Jefferson. He endured a stunning miscarriage of justice & 8 yrs fighting for the exoneration he now has. "Twice, Raymond Jefferson’s service to his country left him in pain, agony and facing years of recovery." https://t.co/wAQvWAxTZ8
— Rye Barcott (@ryebarcott) September 24, 2020
Another explosion 16 years later was even more unexpected. Two subordinates at the Labor Department, where he was the assistant secretary for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), accused him of procurement improprieties.
An inspector general’s report substantiated the allegations, including that he directed government business to associates. […]
After a critical inspector general report, Raymond Jefferson, a West Point graduate and a rising star in the Labor Department, spent eight years trying to clear his name. #jobopportunities https://t.co/6OwKKCplNX pic.twitter.com/yijKxR6lQw
— Karyera.com (@Karyera_com) September 24, 2020
Jefferson, then a rising star with masters degrees from Harvard’s Business School and its Kennedy School of Government, was forced to resign. Not only did that end his prestigious career as a Senate-confirmed, Obama administration political appointee, but the damage to his reputation has followed him since. Then, after eight tough years, the inspector general exonerated Jefferson.
- “At that moment, Jefferson became the highest-ranking member of the Obama Administration forced to resign under a false ethics scandal,” the complaint alleged. “Jefferson had never before been disciplined or even accused of impropriety in any of his previous positions in the public or private sectors.” Among his many accomplishments, he had been a White House Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow. VETS’ achievements under his leadership were chronicled in a book on government leadership.
- Nothing compares to having “your name just destroyed, your reputation just completely demolished in writing and especially when you know it’s not true,” Jefferson said in a series of sometimes tearful interviews by Zoom, email, text messages and phone from Singapore. “I’ve struggled over the years to say which was worse, having my hand blown off or going through this. . . . I think going through this was worse.”
- Unlike civil servants, political appointees like such as Jefferson can be fired at will. They have no agency due process rights that allow them to challenge management actions against them. Jefferson spent his life savings — at least $400,000, he said — to fight in federal court, beginning with a complaint filed in July 2014. The Labor Department and its Office of Inspector General violated his constitutional rights by pushing him out “on false grounds and publicizing their bogus findings without due process of law,” one of Jefferson’s briefs alleged.