Suzanne Barr, Longtime Aide to Janet Napolitano, Resigns as ICE Chief of Staff Over Sex-Harassment Accusations
Suzanne Bar, chief of staff for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau under Janet Napolitano, resigned her post yesterday under accusation of sexually harassing male employees
Suzanne Barr, a longtime aide to Janet Napolitano, has resigned her post as chief of staff of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau over sexual-harassment allegations.
Barr is the daughter of the late Burton Barr, a Republican who served in the Arizona Legislature for more than 20 years. Napolitano, as Arizona's Democratic governor, hired Barr -- a University of Arizona graduate -- in 2004. Barr had previously worked for Republican Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl.
She was a favorite of Napolitano's and moved with her to Washington D.C. after Napolitano abandoned Arizona to take the job as Homeland Security Security in January of 2009 offered to her by President Obama.
A lawsuit filed last month by James Hayes Jr., the special agent in charge of New York's ICE investigations, accused Barr of creating a sexually charged, "frat-house" atmosphere in the workplace.
Photo illustration: Ray Stern According to a lawsuit by an ICE supervisor, Suzanne Barr cultivated a "frat house" atmosphere at the agency.
Barr allegedly moved the office contents of three male employees to a bathroom soon after taking her job as ICE chief of staff, the lawsuit states. Numerous escapades followed. For instance, Barr supposedly swiped one employee's Blackberry and sent a message to his supervisor saying "he" had sexual fantasies about her.
Hayes claimed Barr made comments about the penis length of one employee, and called another employee with the demand that she needed to have "his cock in the back of [her] throat."
The purported party animal went on voluntary leave after Hayes filed his lawsuit.
Barr resigned yesterday after sending a letter to ICE boss John Morton that was obtained by the Associated Press.
In the letter, Barr said the accusations against her were "unfounded," but that she was resigning "with great regret" to protect the agency's reputation.
"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," she wrote.
No word on whether Napolitano planned to resign, too. However, as the scandal was swirling at ICE, the former governor told the Arizona Republic last month that she was considering coming back to Arizona.
Hayes Jr.'s lawsuit also targeted another Napolitano appointee and friend, former Arizona Department of Corrections director Dora Schriro, whom Hayes said wasn't qualified for her job as special advisor on immigrant-removal procedures.