Capitol Police IG: Only two of total 650 total reports from office have been made public since 2005
Russo committed to internally investigating a previous claim of retaliation against whistleblowers at the U.S. Capitol Police and reporting his findings to the subcommittee.
The U.S. Capitol Police inspector general on Wednesday told a House panel that he would never disclose the name of an internal whistleblower and revealed that just two of a total 650 reports from his office have been made public.
"We would protect that information at all costs," Inspector General Ron Russo told the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight. "It's super serious that people feel comfortable to come to us without fear of retaliation so it's a priority to make sure we handle that with great care."
Russo officially became inspector general Jan. 29. Inspectors general offices are government watchdogs that essentially monitor the agency for waste, fraud, abuse and performance issues.
Russo also told the panel that the IG office is not required to make any of its reports public but said he personally supports publicly releasing the reports going forward. However, Russo noted that he currently cannot make the decision to publicly release reports unilaterally.
"The [Capitol Police] board makes the decision on a case by case basis," he said. "We put two online and I think there are six of seven in review now. I would anticipate those becoming public more rapidly."
According to the Capitol Police website, Congress established the U.S. Capitol Police IG office in August 2005.
New York GOP Rep. Anthony D'Esposito asked Russo about Capitol Police employees who came forward before he became IG about intelligence failures on Jan. 6, 2021.
D'Esposito said these whistleblowers were put on a performance-improvement plan and forced out of the department.
He pressed Russo on whether he would consider such actions retaliation. In response, Russo said he wasn't familiar with the details of that situation but he emphasized that protecting whistleblowers is "one of the most important things we do."
Russo committed to internally investigating the allegations D'Esposito laid out and reporting his findings to the subcommittee.
"Absolutely," he said.
In his opening statement, Chairman Rep. Barry Loudermilk said the subcommittee is reviewing claims of retaliation against employees after they spoke with the Inspector General's office. He vowed to "aggressively protect whistleblowers from any internal retaliation."