This is an exclusive report for The Current Report and TNT Radio airing on 1/20/23
The LBTGQ, Jewish and Latino communities may be facing major issues with discrimination as New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called for the expedited confirmation of Biden nominee and embattled former LA Metro CEO Phillip Washington to be the new FAA Administrator.
Washington made national headlines when he was named in criminal warrants executed on September 14th, 2022. At press time, Washington is still under criminal investigation by the California Department of Justice. If confirmed as FAA Administrator, it is possible that Washington could be indicted and extradited back to California to face criminal charges.
In addition to Washington’s criminal troubles, it has become of significant concern that Biden’s Nominee lacks the experience to run the FAA, given the current state of the agency, with leadership in limbo since March, 2022.
The 2022 winter holiday travel chaos caused by winter storms and the unprecedented last minute cancellation of all flights by Southwest Airlines left thousands of stranded and disgruntled passengers. One airport specifically, Denver International, run by the hand-picked Biden FAA nominee, bore the brunt of it.
On January 11th, he aviation industry was dealt another blow when a nationwide ground stop was forced due to a computer outage.
The 90-minute halt to all U.S. departing flights, reportedly due to a computer issue, resulted in approximately 10,000 flights delayed and over 1,300 canceled according to FlightAware, the first since in two decades, similar to the 9/11 terror attacks.
The computer issue had prevented airports from filing updated safety notices that warn pilots of potential hazards such as runway closures, poor weather and construction, bringing flights to a temporary halt.
Republican Rep. Sam Graves, the new chair of the House transportation committee and a pilot, issued a strong statement against the FAA, saying this outage “highlights a huge vulnerability in our air transportation system.”
Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines said Wednesday that other airlines won’t be able to handle all the flights they plan to operate this year, leading to more disruptions for travelers. Kirby said if airlines continue to operate as if this is still 2019, before the pandemic, they are bound to struggle. He said the industry is dealing with a shortage of pilots and other workers, outdated technology and strain on the Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the nation’s airspace.
“The system simply can’t handle the volume today, much less the anticipated growth,” Kirby said. “There are a number of airlines who cannot fly their schedules. The customers are paying the price.”
While NY Senator Chuck Schumer and Commerce Committee Chairman Maria Cantwell willfully ignore the importance Washington’s lack of experience with a crippled FAA in desperate need of restructuring which should be a monumental roadblock in the nomination process alone, Schumer and Cantwell also continue to overlook the criminal warrants, calling them “baseless” (to date, the California Department of Justice has not cleared Washington of wrongdoing). However, the criminal warrants naming Washington immediately was serious enough to prompt Senator Robert Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to release a statement contacting The Current Report shortly before its official release:
“When Mr. Washington was nominated in July, I expressed my skepticism surrounding his lack of experience in aviation. Now I am deeply troubled to learn the nominee was named in a search warrant that ties him to allegations of corruption at LA Metro,” Wicker said. “The committee’s vetting process will require additional scrutiny and review into his leadership at LA Metro. I anticipate that this nominee’s credibility will also be a key focus of the committee.”
Now, to add to the laundry list, we have an undisputed fact discrimination at Los Angeles Metro was rampant under Washington and the agency was forced to pay out millions of dollars to former Metro employees as a result of Washington engaging in racism and discrimination against Jews, AAPI, Latinos and the LGBTQ+ Communities which they are also blatantly ignoring.
A LA Metro, a Senior Executive Officer close to Nalini Ahuja, Chief Financial Officer at LA Metro, on the condition of anonymity, told The Current Report “LA Metro is paying more than $250,000 of taxpayer funds per lawsuit to attorneys just to defend against retaliation, racism and discrimination claims during the time that Washington was LA Metro CEO.”
That figure does not include the cost of the internal investigations by private attorneys that took place related to allegations of misconduct by Washington. Nor does it take into account the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are being paid out in settlements.
In November of 2022, Cantwell’s staff was informed of allegations of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse of Taxpayer funds, public corruption, gender discrimination, racial discrimination and now LBGTQ discrimination.
The information related to these allegations of Phillip Washington’s misconduct was not well received by Cantwell’s staff and therefore disregarded as the Senator was looking for an expedited confirmation process after the roadblocks from Washington’s on-going local and federal criminal investigations which has significantly impacted and stalled the confirmation process.
During the November 2022 meeting, Cantwell’s staff was informed of the lawsuit filed by Transgender, LA Metro employee Jess Reynolds.
Reynold is a transgender woman who identifies as a man, who alleged in a lawsuit in the Superior Court of CA Full Complaint sexual orientation discrimination during Phillip Washington’s time as CEO of LA Metro. Reynolds alleged that he informed then LA Metro Chief Civil Rights Officer and Chief Ethics Officer Jonaura Wisdom, a close advisor to Phillip Washington of the sexual orientation discrimination.
Wisdom reportedly opted to send Reynolds to the Reparative Therapy Center. According to the lawsuit, in the waiting room of the Reparative Center Washington’s team required Reynolds to attend, there was anti-LGBTIQ propaganda, which highlighted the “Evils of Homosexuality.”
Whistleblower and Public Corruption Specialist Adam Loew, CEO of A-Team Advocacy Group informed Washington and LA Metro officials of Reynold’s experience at the center.
“In my opinion what Phillip Washington, Jonaura Wisdom and the LA Metro Board of Directors allowed to happen to Jess Reynolds was unacceptable and quite frankly, disgusting. What makes it even more egregious is that Washington, Wisdom, and the LA Metro Board knew what was happening and chose to do nothing” Loew told The Current Report. “Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Council Member Mike Bonin, both openly gay and LGBTQ advocates, sat on the LACMTA Board and allowed the discrimination to take place unabated.”
Shortly after Washington’s departure from LA Metro, the LA Metro Board agreed to pay Jess Reynolds $735,000 dollars to settle the case.
The settlement with Reynolds involves another embattled LA Nominee, former mayor Eric Garcetti who Biden tapped to be Ambassador to India and has encountered numerous roadblocks as well getting to the confirmation process.
“Garcetti was also involved in Reynolds settlement and sat quietly on the LA Metro Board ignoring repeated requests for assistance from Metro employees who were being harassed by Washington.” said Loew “Garcetti will likely face scrutiny for ignoring of Transgender discrimination during Garcetti’s time on the LA Metro Board on top of the sexual harassment scandal of Rick Jacobs, his top aide.” Loew continues “I hope that Reynolds can find a way to put the discrimination by Phillip Washington and LA Metro officials behind him. Unfortunately, the emotional impact of Washington’s misconduct cannot be rectified with money.”
What is behind Biden, Cantwell and Schumer’s push for Washington as FAA Chief?
His lack of experience in aviation and failed leadership at LA Metro are monumental hurdles to cast aside. Add the on-going criminal investigations for fraud, waste, abuse and now millions paid out in discrimination settlements Washington is clearly unfit to head the FAA.
Thankfully, Senator Wicker continues to be extremely vocal about requesting Biden put forth a new nominee after the holiday travel turmoil and the recent ground stop.
“President Biden’s pick to lead @FAANews, has no safety or aviation experience. We can’t leave the flying public’s wellbeing up to chance. We need a new nominee.”
This is a developing story.