In the immediate aftermath of the 2017 Charlottesville “alt-right” rally and violence that led to the killing of a young protestor, Heather Heyer, President Donald Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Chief Diversity Officer penned a statement condemning the extremist groups, including “white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.”
A Trump appointee told her she couldn’t publish it.
The Washington Post reports John Ullyot, the VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, “sought to silence” Georgia Coffey, “a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations.”
Coffey had wanted to send out the statement because many – 40 percent – of the VA’s 380,000 employees are minorities, and some had already reached out to her looking for support and guidance.
Ullyot told her she was free to share her personal opinions, but sent the message she was not to condemn the extremist hate groups if speaking for the VA. He cut that section out and suggested a replacement:
The Washington Post adds that Coffey decided to post her statement to an internal Veterans’ Affairs monthly communications online newsletter.
Her statement was scrubbed from the document, and she was reportedly reprimanded.
Coffey soon “retired,” and is now the senior manager for diversity and inclusion at a top defense contractor, Lockheed Martin.
Read the full Washington Post report here.