Senior State Official Accused of Mismanagement to Step Down

Kevin Moley, the top U.S. diplomat overseeing international organizations affairs, will retire next month.

The State Department is seen in Washington.
The U.S. State Department is seen in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 29, 2010. Nicholas KammAFP/Getty Images

A top State Department official at the center of a scathing internal department watchdog report on mismanagement is retiring at the end of next month, officials familiar with the matter tell Foreign Policy.

Kevin Moley, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, will retire from his post on Nov. 29 after serving in the job since March 2018. In his job, he oversees U.S. diplomatic relations with international institutions, including the United Nations. 

The announcement—which Moley emailed to staff—comes less than a week after the State Department presented Moley with a “corrective action plan,” which subjected him to more stringent oversight from top State Department officials, including greater scrutiny of his travel plans and restrictions on his hiring authority.

“Team, I announced my long-planned retirement, this morning in the Senior Staff meeting, to be effective November 29th,” Moley wrote in an email to staff. “My wife of 50 years, on that date, our wedding anniversary, has said no more winters in DC and we will be returning to Arizona and celebrating our anniversary in Paris.”

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he added. “You’ve been great colleagues. Keep up the fight.

“Semper Fi.”

“We do not comment on personnel matters,” a State Department spokesman said in response to questions about Moley’s retirement plans.

The State Department Inspector General released a report in August that detailed “evidence of leadership and management deficiencies and mistreatment of career employees” in the bureau under Moley’s leadership. The report cited concerns raised by employees about both Moley and another senior Trump appointee in the bureau. Both vehemently denied the allegations.

The mismanagement cited in the inspector general’s report included “disrespectful and hostile treatment of employees, accusations against and harassment of career employees premised on claims that they were ‘disloyal’ based on their perceived political views, and retaliation associated with conflicts of interest,” according to the report. 

Moley, in a seven-page response included in the report, said that “the behavior attributed to me regarding raising my voice, berating employees, and contributing to a hostile work environment does not represent the person I am or have ever been.”

When asked about the corrective action plan for Moley’s bureau, the State Department spokesman said: “The Department submitted its corrective action plan to the Office of the Inspector General within the required timeframe.

“It’s overdue. In the wake of the inspector general’s report, there should have been disciplinary action, not just retirement,” one senior diplomatic source told Foreign Policy.  “In past administrations, there would’ve been.”

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month urging him to fire Moley, who was investigated along with another senior Trump appointee in the bureau. 

“As Secretary, you must send the message that any retaliation will not be tolerated and that perpetrators of such actions will be held fully accountable,” Menendez wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 11.

Moley’s expected resignation comes as Pompeo faces new criticism over his handling of the department in the midst of an impeachment inquiry centered on whether U.S. President Donald Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate a potential Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, and his son. Former senior diplomats have criticized Pompeo for not doing enough to protect the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from allies of Trump who sought her removal.

Update, Oct. 18, 2019: This article was updated to include new details about Moley’s retirement, including an email he sent to staff and additional quotes from a State Department spokesman.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

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