|By Richard Pollock; Richard Pollock, Senior Watchdog Reporter|
Rare bipartisanship blossomed at a
At the center of the hearing was whistleblower
In her testimony Wednesday before the Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations, Martin described an agency where "there is a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce."
Martin related acts of abuse and discrimination against women and minorities that continued up to the morning of the hearing, when she said she received a call for help from a distraught African- American woman who worked at the bureau.
Martin alleged that women, African-Americans, Hispanics and even naturalized American citizens suffered from the acts of a group of white managers who had created a hostile work environment.
In addition to personal abuse, she said women and minorities at
In her own Consumer Response unit, Martin said there was an exodus of women and African-Americans, only to be replaced by white males who were "cronies" of
"If you're a black in Consumer Response, most of the managers are white male. Women have left. They have been replaced by white males," she told lawmakers. "Anybody who has left that office is a woman or a minority."
The whistleblower testified that
"African-Americans tell me it is extremely hard to leave the Plantation," Martin said. "You must be extremely savvy or you must be having somebody else to get you out," she claimed.
"You cannot say education is a factor because there are licensed attorneys working there. There are [people with] master's degrees there," Martin said.
"So what you have in the performance evaluations are the white males in power in better spots, giving themselves the (top) 4's or 5's, giving themselves the raises and bonuses. And (with) the minorities," she said, "there's a widening of the gap."
Waters was obviously moved by Martin's testimony. She stunned the committee by refusing to ask Martin any questions, telling McHenry, "I'd like to yield back the balance of my time to Ms. Martin so she can just continue talking to us.
"The kind of racism you described, the way you described this so plainly and so openly and the words that you used, it's commendable," Waters told Martin.
"The fact that you're going to provide some leadership on this just does my heart so good. I'm so appreciative," the Democratic lawmaker told McHenry.