CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Rep. Alma Adams, the Democratic Congresswoman from Charlotte, will meet with the Office of Inspector General next week to ask about its investigation into the Census Bureau’s hiring of a registered child sex offender, which was first uncovered by FOX 46.
“We need to know what the [vetting] process will be” going forward, said Adams, during a sit-down interview in her Charlotte office.
A week ago, Adams and four bipartisan North Carolina lawmakers sent a letter to the Office of Inspector General demanding an investigation into the Census Bureau’s hiring practices. The letter was sent in response to a FOX 46 investigation, which found, for nearly a year, the agency hired Kenneth Mabry, a registered child sex offender and promoted him to manage the entire Charlotte region.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Ted Budd (R-High Point), Rep. David Price (D-Raleigh) and Rep. GK Butterfield (D-Durham) also signed the letter.
“When your colleagues saw our investigation,” asked FOX 46 investigative reporter Matt Grant, “were they just as shocked and surprised as you are?”
“Well, absolutely,” said Adams. “I mean, at the least, when people are hired to do these kinds of jobs we really should know who we’re hiring. That’s the number one.”
Mabry, who collected a taxpayer salary, was only fired after he was arrested again in March accused of molesting a nine-year-old girl. A Census Bureau insider said when he was first hired as a recruiter he would attend community events, churches and parades.
Six months before Mabry was hired, the agency was told its vetting system was “inadequate,” and “not fully prepared” and warned in an OIG report that “unqualified or unfit” job candidates could pass a background check.
“Of course I’m concerned about that,” Adams said about Mabry’s hiring. “As a parent, as a grandparent” and as a lawmaker.
“But, also,” she added, “about how well, or not so well, a job we’re doing in terms of really understanding and knowing who’s working for us.”
The Census Bureau is in the process of hiring a half million temporary employees to carry out the 2020 Census. Next year’s headcount is expected to cost more than $15 billion.
Adams wants to make sure that money is going to good use and employees, who will be knocking on your door next year, are properly vetted.
“It took us just five seconds to Google [Mabry’s] name and it was the firs tthing to pop up, his sex offender status,” said Grant. “It makes you wonder if they’re even checking it at all.”
“I think whatever process they had in place, and I don’t know what it is yet,” said Adams, “was not followed.”
Adams say she and other members of the North Carolina delegation will ask investigators next week what vetting processes were in place and what needs to change going forward.
“We need to correct what went wrong,” said Adams. “And make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Census Bureau officials would not comment on the lawmakers’ letter but said they welcome the Inspector General’s oversight and called this a “personnel matter.”