Watchdog files complaint over concerns on top Air Force Gen. Brown's diversity hire priorities

Multiple times over the past several years, Brown has said things pushing divererse hiring.

Published: July 10, 2023 11:37am

Updated: July 10, 2023 7:25pm

A top U.S. Air Force official is making hiring decisions based on race and ideology, in possible violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to a complaint filed Monday by a nonprofit watchdog.

The complaint is being filed by the American Accountability Foundation is in response to public comments made by Air Force chief of staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown about his hiring policies.

"If implemented, the statements and views of General Brown on what should be official hiring policy of the U.S. Air Force present a significant likelihood of violating the civil and constitutional rights of military personnel," the watchdog wrote in a letter to the Air Force inspector general. "Under the direction and supervision of General Brown, subordinates in the U.S. Air Force may have unintentionally already committed a number of such violations in their hiring and promotion processes."

The foundation told Just the News it uses the term "hiring" to refer to both the recruitment and promotion of uniformed servicemembers as well as the hiring of civilian employees.

President Biden is expected to nominate Brown as the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman to replace Gen. Mark Milley.

Examples of discriminatory statements from Brown, cited by the foundation, include how in July 2020, during the height of the George Floyd riots, he said, "I'm thinking about airmen who don't have a life similar to mine and don't have to navigate through two worlds. I'm thinking about how these airmen view racism." 

Floyd, a black male, died two months earlier while being arrested two months earlier by Minneapolis police officers.

Brown, who is also a black man, additionally said in July 2021, on the "PBS NewsHour" TV show, the "beauty of ... George Floyd's death is ... the fact that we're taking a hard look at ourselves, and I think it's opened some eyes to some of our airmen who were just – they just weren't – they were unconscious to it, in some aspects."

The foundation cited multiple times over the past several years in which Brown has said things in support of diversity in hiring.

Also in 2021, he purportedly said: "The other thing that we have to do is ensure that we have diversity on the boards, but also diversity on the candidate list. That’s something we have been doing." 

And in November 2020, he also purportedly said: "I hire for diversity."

His comments, if put into action, could violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, the foundation said.

Government employees have free speech rights so long as their comments are not directly related to their job. However, military service members have fewer protections, but only when the words are content-neutral, so Brown's comments may not be protected.

"General Brown’s actions should be investigated because he used Air Force resources to advocate openly for discrimination, in violation of both the Constitution, U.S. law, and Air Force Policy," the foundation also said. 

It's unclear whether Brown has in fact hired applicants based on his public comments about diversity.

The foundation said it is requesting the Air Force inspector general to conduct an "investigation into whether General Brown’s actions, statements and implicit direction to subordinates resulted in the violation of the Constitutional and civil rights of military personnel and recruits."

The Air Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Appearing on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show, AAF Communications Manager Yitz Friedman, pointed to Brown's past comments as motivating the complaint.

"He's very explicit and very clear that he just wants a military where troops are basically promoted and judged by their skin color," Friedman said. "And that's why we we filed this complaint today, we are asking the Inspector General of the Air Force to investigate what what the hell CQ Brown was up to over at the Air Force. He's saying these things like I hire for diversity. Well, guess what, if that's what you're doing, that's against the law."

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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