National | Politics

Echo Hawk removed official who investigated Jeanette Hanna





Former Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk removed the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from his post after he initiated an investigation into Jeanette Hanna, the employee said today.

Jerry Gidner, a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, became director of the BIA in 2007. He lasted through the change in administration but his tenure was cut short when he became tangled in Hanna's unique employment situation, a situation that was created by Echo Hawk and his chief of staff, Paul Tsosie.

Gidner's name is redacted in a copy of a report from the Office of Inspector General at the Interior Department that Indianz.Com obtained yesterday. But he confirmed that he was the person who placed Hanna on leave from her post as regional director of the Eastern Oklahoma in order to investigate allegations about her behaviors there.

"ASIA Echo Hawk moved me out of the Bureau Director position because I launched the investigation that led to this," Gidner said in a post on Facebook that was viewed by Indianz.Com this morning.

A final report into the investigation that Gidner requested was completed in March 2010, only four months after Hanna was placed on leave. Although the report has not been made public, it confirmed that she "fostered a hostile work environment and engaged in retaliation, harassment and mismanagement," according to the OIG.

Yet Echo Hawk and Tsosie didn't do anything about Hanna's status, the OIG report said. Tsosie indicated that he felt the investigation was a bit one-sided because Hanna was never interviewed.

But there was another reason why Echo Hawk and Tsosie were reluctant to take action. Hanna had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity claim against Gidner, alleging that he wrongly placed her on detail in Washington, D.C.

Gidner originally assigned Hanna to work in his office in DC. But Hanna went over his head and complained directly to Echo Hawk during "breakfast at a restaurant in Alexandria, VA," the OIG report said.

"Echo Hawk later agreed to assign Hanna to Tsosie," the report stated, creating a situation in which she was allowed to remain on detail for 775 days, far longer than the 240 days allowed by federal regulations.

And instead of resolving Hanna's status, Echo Hawk moved Gidner into a new position of "special counselor to the assistant secretary" in DC in March 2010, the same month that the report was completed. Mike Black, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was officially named to the director post a month later.

The EEO claim against Gidner was later found to be without merit by DOI's Office of Civil Rights, according to the OIG report. Gidner is now assigned to a position within DOI University.

DOI Inspector General Report:
Jeanette Hanna (August 2012)

Related Stories:
Inspector General Reports: Larry Echo Hawk, Jeanette Hanna (4/30)
Echo Hawk creates new post for director under investigation (4/)
BIA lists job opening for Eastern Oklahoma's regional director (4/2)
In the Loop: BIA's regional director goes missing in action (3/28)
BIA regional office goes without director for over two years (3/22)
BIA faces leadership void among regional director level (2/2)
BIA official in Eastern Oklahoma placed on leave (11/9)