Homeland Republicans Investigate Ethics Compliance of Claire Trickler-McNulty Amid Suspect ICE Contracts
October 26, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN); Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability; and Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement, continued their investigation into suspicious contracts awarded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which may have involved senior ICE official Claire Trickler-McNulty and her former colleague, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait. The Chairmen’s letter is addressed to Ms. Trickler McNulty, Joseph B. Maher, principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Patrick J. Lechleitner, the acting director of ICE, and requests documents and information related to Trickler-McNulty’s compliance with the Department’s ethical standards for appointees, as mandated by an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.
“Federal officials possess a solemn responsibility to uphold the public trust and maintain the highest standards of integrity. Our investigation and others are increasingly showing that former and current ICE officials like Andrew Lorenzen-Strait and Claire Trickler-McNulty have broken that trust,” Chairman Green said. “While Lorenzen-Strait has openly admitted to benefitting financially from the border crisis, it seems more and more clear Trickler-McNulty has been working to effectively abolish ICE from the inside by undermining ICE’s enforcement mission and empowering anti-enforcement groups. Our Southwest border has devolved into unprecedented chaos as politically connected insiders subvert the purpose and mission of the very agency in which they have served. This Committee and the American people deserve the truth.”
In August, Mr. Lorenzen-Strait admitted on camera that he used his previous connections with Biden’s 2020 transition team to help facilitate sole-source, no-bid contracts to the non-profit group Endeavors—for which Lorenzen-Strait went to work in January 2021 as senior director for migrant services and federal affairs—to provide services to illegal aliens. Despite having no experience as a contractor for such shelter services, Endeavors ultimately received more than $600 million in contracts from DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Lorenzen-Strait later left the organization in September 2022, after growing scrutiny.
As the assistant director of the Office of Immigration Program Evaluation at ICE, Trickler-McNulty currently oversees the approval or termination of contracts involving new detention facilities and Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs, and she has prior professional relationships with anti-enforcement groups. After working with Lorenzen-Strait and prior to rejoining ICE in her current position, Trickler-McNulty was deputy director for Legal Services at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a nonprofit organization which previously demanded that DHS cease all deportations and was affiliated with an “Abolish ICE” organization during her tenure.
In the letter, the Chairmen write, “On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) implementing additional ethics commitments for appointees. The E.O. included a two year prohibition on participating in particular matters with former employers or clients. The E.O.’s requirements buttressed the existing ethical standards which require federal employees to act impartially and to avoid even the appearance of acting otherwise. Ethics guidance advises employees that they should not act on a matter if a reasonable person, with knowledge of the circumstances, could legitimately question the employee’s impartiality.”
The Chairmen conclude, “Compliance with ethical standards is paramount to maintain the public’s trust, and transparency is essential to an effective government ethics program. To confirm Ms. Trickler- McNulty’s compliance with ethical standards, and assist with our ongoing oversight of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Immigration Program Evaluation’s authority and influence over acquisition and contracts related to ICE’s programs, please provide the following information as soon as possible[.]”
Read the letter here.
Last month, the Daily Mail reported that Chairmen Green, Bishop, and Higgins demanded answers from Lorenzen-Strait and requested more information from Acting ICE Director Lechleitner on these concerning reports of impropriety and suspected anti-enforcement bias on the part of Lorenzen-Strait’s former colleague, Ms. Trickler-McNulty, who the Committee argues is affecting ICE’s mission.
This investigation follows continued oversight by the Committee of suspect ICE contracts for illegal alien services as the Southwest border crisis remains at historic levels under this administration. This oversight investigation comes amid record-low ICE enforcement by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and the Committee is diving in even deeper on how the Biden administration has effectively changed ICE as an agency through these, as Lorenzo-Straight put it himself, “corrupt bargains,” and how ICE is now more focused on social services than detention and removal of illegal aliens and enforcement of U.S. immigration law.
As detailed in Homeland Republicans’ oversight investigation into Secretary Mayorkas, ICE’s Non-Detained Docket has grown by nearly two million just since FY20, and CBP has recorded 1.7 million known gotaways at the Southwest border since Biden took office.