For immediate release:
July 10, 2023
Re: AAF Files Inspector General Complaint Against General C.Q. Brown for Race Based Hiring
The American Accountability Foundation (AAF) is extremely concerned by statements and official actions made by President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General C.Q. Brown. General Brown has made statements in favor of making hiring and promotion decisions in the Air Force based on race, as well as monitoring the private beliefs of recruits, airmen, officers, and employees with the intention of censoring those beliefs. AAF believes that these statements and actions run afoul of the equal protection clause, free speech, and the DOD code of conduct. Accordingly, today the American Accountability Foundation is announcing the filing of a complaint with the Office of the Air Force Inspector General requesting an investigation into General Brown’s discriminatory comments and potential unlawful impact on military personnel.
AAF’s research has found that:
- In a February 11, 2021, People Magazine interview, General Brown stated that “we’ve got to closely manage our diverse populations…to make sure their development and opportunities aren’t happening by luck.” He stated further that the Air Force needs to “tweak the screening process, so it’s not so reliant upon a paper test” when considering recruitment and promotion opportunities.
- In an interview with the Washington Post posted to YouTube on January 25, 2021, General Brown stated that “we broke up our promotion boards to actually do developmental categories, so it wasn’t kind of about a big one-size-fits-all by and large….” “The other things 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….”
- In an interview with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2020, General Brown flatly said, “I hire for diversity” and that “I purposely build my office, my front office, and my team with diverse” backgrounds.
Race-based hiring has no place in the military. Our men and women in uniform deserve to be led on missions by the most qualified and skilled officers and leaders
our nation has, who will give them the best chance of success and getting home safely. Yet General Brown has repeatedly declared his view that military promotions and hiring should take race into consideration.
If General Brown’s conduct as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff has been in accordance with his publicly stated beliefs on what should be official hiring policy of the U.S. Air Force, it would present a significant likelihood of violating the civil and constitutional rights of military personnel, in addition to violating existing code of conduct for Air Force personnel.
Discrimination by federal officials based on race is prohibited under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Especially after the recent court decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College that found Affirmative Action to be racist, illegal, and unconstitutional, we have a clear standard set by the Supreme Court for federal officials in the hiring and promotion process that stamps out race-based decision-making.
As we detail in our complaint, “It is Department of Defense policy to ‘Prohibit discrimination based on race, color, [etc.].’ 32 C.F.R. §191.4. Similarly, Air Force Policy Directive 36-27, §1.1 states that it is ‘Unlawful discrimination against military members is any unlawful action that denies equal opportunity to persons or groups based upon their race, color, [etc.].’ This includes ‘refusing to hire or promote, removing, or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of a person’s race…color, [etc.].’ §1.2.”
In addition, we are also seriously concerned by General Brown’s comments regarding the monitoring of the constitutionally protected speech of military personnel’s social media.
AAF’s research found that in a July 28, 2021, interview with PBS, General Brown stated that “membership of an extremist organization that goes against our core values, should not be a part of the military and that recruits’ social media should be monitored because ‘individuals will put things on social media that they would never say to your face’ and that it would “also tell you a little bit about the character of the individual that you’re bringing into our service.’” General Brown said that wrong views would be a “factor” in determining whether a recruit would be accepted.
As we detail in our complaint “military service members are afforded Free Speech protections when the speech restrictions are not content-neutral. “[W]ords and actions are entitled to protection unless there is a greater countervailing government interest in suppressing the particular speech or expressions in question.” Carlson v. Schlesinger, 511 F.2d 1327, 1332 (D.C. Cir. 1975).
In addition, General Brown’s comments likely constitutes improper conduct and an abuse of authority, since he used Air Force resources to advocate openly for discrimination, in violation of both the Constitution, U.S. law, and Air Force Policy, while using his official title and while speaking about how he operates in his official capacity, sometimes in uniform, and sometimes using Air Force channels to speak.
For these reasons, American Accountability Foundation has filed a complaint with the Office of the Air Force Inspector General, requesting an investigation into General C.Q. Brown’s discriminatory comments about race and potential unlawful impact on military personnel, either by him or taken at his behest or implicit direction.
For more information on General CQ Brown please see our June 20 memo.
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