Top Democrat questions aid agency's culture as nominee faces hearing

Citing a bizarre speech on diversity from one of Millennium Challenge Corporation's leaders, a top Democrat raised co...

Posted: Feb 27, 2018 10:20 AM
Updated: Feb 27, 2018 10:20 AM

Citing a bizarre speech on diversity from one of Millennium Challenge Corporation's leaders, a top Democrat raised concerns over the federal aid agency's culture as the Trump administration's nominee prepares for a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighted these issues in a letter dated February 23 to the acting leader of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a small federal government aid agency established 2004.

The letter said that these concerns came up as Menendez was reviewing the nomination of Sean Cairncross to lead the organization as CEO.

"As part of this review process, it has come to my attention that a current member of Millennium Challenge Corporation's senior political leadership has made a number of concerning statements and remarks to staff that call into question the MCC's commitment to an open and diverse workplace and an acceptable code of conduct," Menendez wrote.

Menendez's letter singles out Robert Blau, the organization's vice president of compact operations, for statements at a company town hall last June. Blau made "a number of troubling comments that raise questions about his approach to and treatment of employees based on their political leanings, sexual orientation, and national origin," Menendez wrote.

According to an audio copy of the speech obtained by Foreign Policy, Blau reportedly told his co-workers that he is "not someone who celebrates diversity or engineers it. To me," he said, "diversity just happens."

"My first wife was an African immigrant," he said, according to Foreign Policy. "So, actually, on an anthropologic level, I'm like President Obama's mother. In the sense that my spouse was an African immigrant and my sons are mixed race, like President Obama and his siblings. And my stepmother, my father's second wife, is from Colombia. My sister-in-law is also from Colombia. They're not related, it's a coincidence. I despise one and love the other one, so you can't generalize about Colombians."

He also said, presumably to a Millennium Challenge Corporation employee, according to the report: "Your demographic is Asian. Are Asians all in one box?" he asked. "The big three in her area is Koreans, Japanese and Chinese. Would they want to be in the same box? I don't think so."

Menendez said he was "deeply troubled" by Blau's comments and added that he plans to ask Cairncross for his "commitment to address any workplace issues as part of his nomination process."

Millennium Challenge Corporation responded with a statement, saying that it is "proud of its long track record of fostering a positive workplace culture that prioritizes respect, openness, and inclusion." The agency is "committed to these principles now and moving forward," press secretary Laura Allen said in a statement.

"The comments cited in the letter from Senator Menendez do not reflect MCC's values, or the agency's respect for diversity and inclusion," Allen said. "MCC is working to respond to the letter from Senator Menendez."

West Lafayette
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Kokomo
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 70°
Rensselaer
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Fowler
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Logansport
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events