WASHINGTON (CN) – The former Public Affairs Officer for Arlington National Cemetery claims the Army fired her for trying to provide the media with better access to military funerals. She claims one of her bosses lied to federal agents, and that “for much of the last two decades ANC has been operated as a fiefdom for its leadership, permeated by egotistical and self-serving attitudes that have grown unchecked over the years due to any significant Army or Congressional oversight”.
Jennifer Gray says she was fired “for retaliatory purposes” but that he complaints led to an investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Command “that concluded the Assistant Superintendent (otherwise referred to as the Deputy Superintendant and Director of Cemetery Operations) Thurman Higginbotham (‘Higginbotham’) had committed the offense of False Statements by lying and/or intentionally misleading federal agents.”
Gray, a veteran of Iraq, claims that “Just days into her new job, Ms. Gray incurred the ire of her supervisors, and particularly Higginbotham, when the Washington Post reported on April 24, 2008, that ANC officials were attempting to unduly restrict media access to military funerals. The one positive comment in the article was that Ms. Gray ‘pushed vigorously to allow the journalists more access to the service yesterday.’ The article continued that ‘she was apparently shot down by other cemetery officials.’ Among those ‘other cemetery officials’ was Higginbotham. Ms. Gray was subsequently ‘demoted’ by having her title essentially reduced in rank and her supervisory chain of command modified from the Superintendant to White, who is just a GS-13.”
Gray says Congress has failed to monitor the behavior of top officials at Arlington for years, “particularly with respect to the manner in which senior ANC officials treat subordinate employees. The responsibility for the misconduct and/or the lack of proper supervisory actions lies directly at the feet of three senior ANC officials: John C. Metzler, who has served as the ANC Superintendent since 1991, Higginbotham, the Deputy Superintendent since 1990, and White, the Director of Administrative Services since 2003. These three individuals have engaged for years in unlawful or inappropriate and unprofessional activities with little notice until recently.”
Gray says she was fired on June 27, 2008. She demands documents the Army is withholding from her, claiming that the public interest overrides any privacy claims that people mentioned in the documents may assert.
She is represented in Federal Court by Mark Zaid.