Politico: Watt accuser invited to speak at FHFA hearing

Simone Grimes accused FHFA Director Mel Watt of sexual misconduct

Simone Grimes, the Federal Housing Finance Agency employee who accused Director Mel Watt of sexual harassment, has been invited to testify at the House Financial Services Committee’s upcoming congressional hearing on oversight of the agency, according to a report by Politico.

Grimes, who serves as a special adviser at the agency, responded to Politico that she is willing to testify at the hearing, which is scheduled for Thursday. She alleges that Watt repeatedly made inappropriate sexual advances when she tried to discuss career and salary concerns. 

According to Politico’s reporting, staff members for both the majority and minority of the House Financial Services Committee will meet with Grimes on Tuesday afternoon. 

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Grimes should be allowed to speak, according to a letter she sent to Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. 

From the article: 

”The Committee had been in contact with Ms. Grimes' attorney prior to the Ranking Member's letter and requested she come in to meet with staff to present her claims and supporting evidence — as is our regular practice for anyone making claims of this nature," Hensarling spokeswoman Sarah Flaim said in an email today.

"She is expected to meet with majority and minority staff this afternoon and has been invited to testify on Thursday pending the meeting with staff," Flaim said.

Grimes, who was alerted by POLITICO this morning to Waters' request, said she is "100 percent willing" to testify.

Grimes' allegations against Watt were first made public in late July when Politico reported that Watt is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. Politico reported that the conversations included a 2016 meeting where Watt steered the discussion to his feelings for the woman, according to documents and partial transcripts of tapes obtained by the news agency.

Since the news broke, Grimes has filed a lawsuit against the FHFA and is seeking $1 million in damages. In the lawsuit, Simone Grimes v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, Grimes claims the agency paid her less than the man who held her position before her because she refused sexual advances from Watt. 

Earlier this month, Politico also reported that Watt declined to participate in the U.S. Postal Service's investigation of the allegations but has cooperated with the FHFA inspector general's internal probe. The report says that Watt wrote in a July 23 email that he was not subject to FHFA harassment rules, writing that “presidential appointees confirmed by the United States Senate are specifically excluded from this definition.” 

From that article: 

“As I am cooperating fully with the investigation that the FHFA Office of Inspector General is undertaking of the allegations Ms. Grimes has made against me, a full investigation of this matter will occur without your interview of me,” Watt wrote to the USPS contract investigator.

Watt said he was “confident that the investigation currently in progress will confirm that I have not done anything contrary to law,” in a July email to POLITICO, which first reported that he was under investigation.

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