Report: Trump Homeland Security IG Received PhD From Diploma Mill


“Cuffari, whom Trump nominated in November 2018, is the kind of laissez-faire watchdog Trump is looking for.”

According to Mother Jones, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has lied about his credentials, falsely claiming that he holds a Philosophy Ph.D.

  • Cuffari has repeatedly signed off as “Joseph V. Cuffari, PhD,” in letters to Congress and the head of DHS. In addition, Mother Jones reported that his Ph.D. in philosophy was listed under his official government bio, but after questions about his degree, it had been revised on Thursday. The name of the school that Cuffari attended is still missing.
  • As it turns out, Cuffari’s Ph.D. from California Coast University is in management, and “it was conferred by a school that was unaccredited at the time,” Mother Jones reported.

“In 2004, two years after Cuffari received the degree, the Government Accountability Office prominently featured California Coast University in a report on unaccredited ‘diploma mills’ that required no classroom instruction and issued degrees for low flat fees.”

  • When questioned about Cuffari’s degree from an unaccredited school, a spokesperson responded that CCU was “accredited during his matriculation” from 1998 to 2002. However, the school’s registrar told Mother Jones that the university gained accreditation in 2005 for the first time in the school’s history.
  • The school was “far from a traditional institution,” wrote Mother Jones. Its website at the time of Cuffari’s matriculation did not contain any information on the professors or the courses offered.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its “diploma mills” investigation, and defined diploma mills as “nontraditional, unaccredited, postsecondary schools that offer degrees for a relatively low flat fee, promote the award of academic credits based on life experience, and do not require any classroom instruction.” CCU met all of these criteria.

Mother Jones reported that Cuffari is “the kind of laissez-faire watchdog Trump is looking for.”

  • Recently, President Trump has fired independent inspectors general who were investigating cases involving the administration. Mother Jones wrote that in the “past two months, Trump has gotten rid of or pushed aside five inspectors general, complaining that they were treating him ‘very unfairly.’”
  • A senior staffer in Cuffari’s office told The Washington Post in March that his office had often been empty, before the pandemic hit.
  • House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D- NY) wrote in a letter to Cuffari in March that his office had only completed 20 reports this fiscal year, compared to 58 during the same period in 2018, before Cuffari was appointed.

Maloney wrote to Cuffari, “You have released reports at a slower pace than your predecessors for every year since 2003—the first year your office began issuing reports.”

  • Since Cuffari has been in office, he has “published only one critical report on the president’s anti-immigrant agenda, documenting DHS’s disastrous implementation of Trump’s family separation policy. Cuffari reportedly tried to suppress it,” Mother Jones wrote.

Last week, Cuffari wrote to Congress that he will be investigating ICE’s reckless response to the coronavirus pandemic at its detention centers.

  • House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D- MS) expressed his “deep concerns” about the quality of reports from Cuffari’s office. According to Thompson, the reports were so flawed that he was worried about Cuffari’s ability to investigate DHS’s response to COVID-19.
  • After requesting and receiving the GAO report, Maine Republican senator Susan Collins expressed “great concern that federal officials who hold high-ranking positions, and security clearances in some instances, have degrees from diploma mills.” She added, “It calls into question their qualifications and abilities to do their jobs.”

Read the full report here.


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