2021/09/03 Senator Roger Wicker commits to contunuing oversight of Department of Commerce. Read more at https://bit.ly/3yZyWW3
2021/09/03 Department of Commerce abolishes rogue investigative unit. Read more at https://bit.ly/3yZyWW3
On June 30, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. ET, Representative Jamie Raskin, Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Representative Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, will hold a roundtable entitled “Researching while Chinese American: Ethnic Profiling, Chinese American Scientists and a New American Brain Drain.” Sherry Chen will be testify in the roundtable. Read more at https://bit.ly/3qzvYFd.
On May 24, 2021, The Washington Post reported how a security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department, searching and monitoring many Asian American employees over benign correspondence. It is the same unit that interrogated Sherry Chen, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, and was credited by the Department of Justice for the prosecution against her that was dropped in 2015. The article cited multiple whistleblowers and an inspector general’s report that the unit had no legal authority to conduct criminal investigations. On August 15, 2018, the Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund submitted a whistleblower letter to the Office of Inspector General at DOC. Read more about the complaint at https://bit.ly/3unhxEI. The Post also reported that the minority-party staff of the Senate Commerce Committee under Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has been conducting an investigation since early this year. Read more at https://wapo.st/2QM747X.
Later on the same day of May 24, 2021, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Committee), released a fact
sheet (https://bit.ly/3fL4w29) as a precursor to a Committee report detailing misconduct in the
Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) at the Department of Commerce
(DOC). This is the press statement: https://bit.ly/3ugvPa1. The fact sheet was released shortly
after the Washington Post (WP) published a blockbuster article about a whole range of
misconduct by ITMS, which included the targeting of Asian Americans.
The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hearing generated 3,800 pages of testimonies and exhibits. It took 13 months for the Chief Administrative Judge to issue a 135-page decision. It provided a comprehensive explanation on why Sherry Chen was a victim of "gross injustice."
The MSPB decision vindicates Sherry Chen not only for the unfairness and injustice by the Department of Commerce (DOC) to terminate her employment, but also in proving her total innocence in the espionage-related allegations that started her ordeal back in 2012.
The MSPB judge opined that a combination of prejudice, embarrassment, and incompetence apparently caused the mishandling of the case at multiple levels of DOC. The informant gave misleading and implausible testimonies; it was "puzzling and unfortunate" for the investigative agents to selectively report their investigative results; management personnel omitted a dozen affidavits in favor of Sherry Chen without explanation; and the top officials blindly ignored exculpatory facts when they were presented.
On May 23, 2018, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and three major Chinese American organizations hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill.
CAPAC members spoke one after another and called for the Inspector General at DOC to conduct a full and independent investigation given the MSPB findings. Over 130 community organizations wrote a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Ross to support CAPAC's call and urged him to comply with the MSPB decision.
Despite these Congressional and community protests and calls for corrective actions, DOC filed an appeal to the MSPB decision on June 18, 2018. Without fresh arguments, the appeal is in effect a delaying tactic. MSPB has lacked a quorum to process appeals since January 2017, and its backlog has grown to 1,600 cases by the end of October 2018. Justice delayed is justice denied.
In response, Sherry Chen and her attorney Steve Simon filed a cross appeal, which was completed on August 27, 2018. Sherry Chen has received interim relief, but she is placed on administrative leave, blocked from returning to work in her office. She has not received back pay, and her attorney has not collected the awarded legal fees, as the MSPB judge has ruled.
On May 31, 2018, The Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DOC to obtain information on the filling of a DOC senior executive position in 2014, a month before Sherry Chen's arrest.
On August 15, 2018, The Fund turned over a whistleblower letter to the Inspector General Office at DOC. The letter alleges discriminatory practices against Sherry Chen and other DOC employees of Asian ancestry.
On January 18, 2019, Sherry Chen's legal team filed a civil lawsuit against the U.S. government for the malicious prosecution and false arrest of Sherry Chen in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
These and related developments are continuously updated in more detail under Latest Developments.