After being accused of creating a sexually-charged, "frat-house-type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees," Suzanne Barr, longtime aide to Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, resigned Saturday from her position as the chief of staff to the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a letter nabbed by the New York Times, Barr explains to ICE director John Morton her reasons for stepping down (which include not wanting allegations of her misconduct to taint the "reputation" of the ICE), while also denying that she Mean Girled anyone within the department:
In recent weeks, I have been the focus of unfounded allegations designed to destroy my reputation, but of greater concern, however, is the threat these allegations represent to the reputation of this agency and the men and women who proudly serve their country by advancing ICE's mission. As such, I feel it is incumbent upon me to take every step necessary to prevent further harm to the agency and to prevent this from further distracting from our critical work. Therefore, it is with great regret that I submit my resignation as chief of staff for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Allegations that Barr behaved inappropriately in her capacity as a top ICE official come to us courtesy of a lawsuit filed by James T. Hayes Jr., a top federal immigration official in New York who claims that he was pushed out of a senior management position to clear the way for a less-qualified female replacement. He also says that Barr "humiliated" male employees in various sordid ways, like the time Barr allegedly stole a male staffer's Blackberry and used it to inform his female supervisor that he "had a crush on [her] and fantasized about her."
The Times observes that Barr's resignation comes over a Labor Day weekend "sandwiched between the Republican and Democratic national conventions," meaning that Barr might have hoped to avoid undue public scrutiny for stepping down. However, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has vowed to do his damndest to scrutinize the allegations against Barr...just as soon as members of Congress return from summer vacation with fresh tans and tales of fleeting romances.