Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has requested a new Senate investigation into Phil Washington, Joe Biden’s nominee for the head of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Washington’s nomination was stalled in the summer of 2020 due to allegations of corruption and retaliation at Denver International Airport, where he has been CEO since 2021.
Cruz is now calling for further investigation following Washington’s failure to disclose that he was named in a new lawsuit that alleges discriminatory and retaliatory practices at Denver’s airport.
Cruz has also noted that Washington has failed to provide over 18 hours of speeches and remarks, as well as details of additional lawsuits involving him, which the committee must now review before his nomination can be considered.
Washington’s first nomination was also plagued with issues surrounding his time as CEO of LA Metro, where he was involved in two federal criminal investigations.
One of the investigations involved allegations that LA Metro distributed counterfeit N95 masks early in the pandemic to transit workers, leading to at least one death.
The other involved a no-bid contract for a sexual harassment hotline that was given to a friend of then-LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, which ended up costing the county $8,000 per call.
Since his first nomination, more information has come to light regarding the Kuehl investigation. In September, search warrants were executed at the homes of Kuehl, her friend, the nonprofit Peace Over Violence, LA Metro offices, and Supervisor Kuehl’s office.
The search warrant named Washington, alleging that he was directly involved in a corrupt contract with the nonprofit Peace Over Violence, and that he had the contract paid from a fund normally used for office supplies, which would lessen scrutiny of the expenditure.
Jennifer Loew, the whistleblower whose information led to the investigation and search warrants, had filed complaints with her bosses over Peace Over Violence’s contract, and was retaliated against by Washington for doing so.
She was denied a promotion and moved to a basement office next to the parking garage and restrooms. Kuehl has blamed the entire investigation on a “disgruntled former employee” who is “obsessed” with the issue.
Given the allegations and retaliatory conduct alleged in Denver, Cruz is calling for an additional investigation into Washington before the Senate considers his nomination. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will comply with Cruz’s request or not.