GAC's Reaction to Ruth Yeaher's Claims of "Sexual Harassment"
May 11, 2010
Once again the General Auditing Commission is attracted, though not perturbed, by yet another diversionary tactics perpetrated by people who think that finding shield in frivolous allegations and designing scare tactics can cause Auditor General John Morlu and his able staff to succumb to the whirlwind of fraud, waste and abuse prevailing in this country. Recently reclassified Audit Trainee Ruth Bailey-Yeaher, without the fear of God and respect to womanhood, has wildly and baselessly claimed sexual harassment against her by the venerable Auditor General of Liberia, Mr. John Sembe Morlu, II.
The GAC would have chosen to leave Ruth Yeaher’s claims un-responded to not only because of its sheer emptiness and nonsensicality but also because of the fact all well-meaning people acknowledge that the accused Auditor General bears rare and sterling moral qualities. But because the allegation bears the face of organized scare tactics, blackmail and terrorization of audit indictees and their protégés, which the public has seen since the birth of the Morlu-headed GAC, we find it necessary to react and expose the charade, hidden motives and shadows that have driven the false “sexual harassment” alarm made by Madam Ruth Yeaher.
Everyone knows that before Madam Yeaher’s “sexual harassment” accusation of today, there were “indictments” of “political audit”, “witch-hunt”, “unprofessional audit”, “incompetent Auditor General” yesterday. AG Morlu was also accused of "breaking down" a door at RIA and prevented from leaving the country for Christmas of 2008 to attend to the care of his wife who had broken her leg and to take his son to hospital. This was meant to intimidate, harass and malign the reputation of AG Morlu and by extension damage the moral standing of the entire new GAC. During the Budget debate, AG Morlu was also accused of "usurping the functions of the Presidency," which is a treasonable offense. A week later, a Managing Director was on radio and in print calling for AG Morlu to be charged with treason for saying the Government was 3X Corrupt; thanks to the forceful defense of Senate Pro Tempore Wotorson, this was not done as Senator Wotorson correctly indicated then that the days of charging people with treason on flimsy charges were over. Soon, thereafter, the detractors established a newspaper called Nation Times, as a dedicated medium to attack AG Morlu so as to humiliate him and malign his character and thereby destroy the work of the GAC. The Nation Times carried numerous articles accusing AG Morlu of being a "Child Soldier" in Taylor’s army of warriors. A National Security file was even created and AG Morlu’s lawyer was contacted. But all this soon turned to be a lie.
Not long, a Government sponsored group unfortunately named "The Movement for the Defense of the Down Trodden" was on air and in print for over a year attacking AG Morlu and the GAC, labeling him corrupt without any iota of evidence. This Group even went as far as harassing auditors at the Ministry of Public Works; but thanks to the intervention of the workers’ union of the Ministry that saved the day. Other obscure groups are still being manufactured and clothed in pseudo transparency and anti-fraud coloration. Through it all, the AG and GAC have remained committed to professionalism and quality of audit products that will, unlike the case of 160 years in Liberia history, never be compromised.
Tomorrow, the GAC is fully aware, and the public needs not be surprised, that crimes more felonious, such as murder, rape, treason, etc. would come out against Auditor General Morlu and the GAC. And all these allegations have got a common source--a diabolical ploy by fiscal pirates to undermine the GAC, bedevil the fight against plunder and secure impunity for audit indictees. Ruth Yeaher has got an intractable link with this ploy, which is while she’s counterfeiting sexual harassment. And this is why we have sought to react not necessarily to expose the subterfuges that have driven her allegations, but also to lay the blame of all the wanton attacks against the GAC to a grand final scheme by fraud-oriented detractors, and acquiesced by some state authority, to persecute the Auditor General and annihilate the robust public audit program of the GAC.
It is not surprising that after the failed attempt to undermine the HIPC audits, now the detractors have found a willing partner who is also somehow linked to corruption through family relationship to attack the moral standing of AG Morlu, a man who many Liberians have not even laid their eyes on. He spends all his time at the GAC and at home, when he is not at the GAC. This is a man who indicated that his senior staff should not even attend nightclubs because it will undermine their professional standing. That said, it is time to turn to the real issues and present the facts as it occurred, as GAC is an audit institution and AG Morlu always reminds us to ensure that what we write and say must be backed with sufficient, reliable and relevant evidential matter as only the facts can save GAC, as AG Morlu and GAC cannot control the attacks but we can control the facts as we document all interactions.
WHO IS MADAM RUTH YEAHER--THE ACCUSER?
To understand the intrigues underpinning Madam Ruth Yeaher’s shameless claims of “sexual harassment”, it’s instructive to introduce the accuser: first, as one of thirty (30) GAC employees reclassified to lower positions due to unimpressive performances; and second, as a wife of Mr. Alexander Yeaher, whose appointment as Development Superintendent for River Gee County was advised against by AG Morlu on account of his (Yeaher’s) fraudulent handling of Government’s County Development Fund (CDF) in Montserrado and Margibi. The Ministry of Justice also has an outstanding arrest warrant for Mr. Yeaher.
The issue of Mr. Yeaher is introduced because in her accusation letter, Mrs. Ruth Bailey Yeaher also indicated that AG Morlu complained her husband to the President and therefore the President revoked his nomination. For this, she indicated I will fight to "clear my family name." After 3 years of AG Morlu leadership at GAC, it is now after her husband is caught in the misuse of CDF monies and that she is demoted that she wants to "clear her family name?"
1. Reclassified Employee
Madam Ruth Yeaher is one of few persons of the former GAC brought onboard to the current reformed GAC. She reportedly served as a Computer Operator in the office of two erstwhile Auditor Generals. In September 2007, after reviewing the functions of all positions of the GAC in the quest to start the new GAC, the position of Computer Operator was named appropriately as Receptionist. This is because the job description was more of a reception than a Computer Operator. And this point, AG Morlu has already established the IT Department with experienced computer specialist to handle all IT related matters at the GAC, which is consistent with best practices. At that time, Mrs. Yeaher was sent to work as a Receptionist in the HR Department. She was even a first year student at the University and had minimal professional experience beyond a Receptionist post.
Periodically, the Auditor General, based on the advice of senior staff and HR, carries out the reclassification of employees, either with a promotion and a demotion according to their performances. Mrs. Ruth applied to the Department of Governmental Affairs, because there was an opening for an Administrative Officer to provide clerical support to the head of the Department in managing GAC affairs with the National Legislature and the Civil Society. Both Mr. Augustus James who was in charge of the Department of Government Affairs at the time and HR Director Rev. John S. M. Russell agreed and Ruth was transferred, as it is done with many employees at the GAC as the AG has insisted on each person finding a career path. Records show that Ruth was reclassified (promoted) to Administrative Officer.
Subsequently Ruth requested another transfer. She wanted to become an auditor like many of her friends. Again in giving maximum opportunity to all at the GAC, administration saw it fit to do so since in fact she had pleaded with the Auditor General in her emails of July 1, 2008 and July 9, 2008, stating “I want to take advantage of this glorious opportunity to advance myself. I am a junior student of the United Methodist University with emphasis in Management and correspondence in Economics”. She was made a junior auditor consistent with the GAC’s policy of personnel skills development and enhancement. The second Receptionist is also completing college and she too asked to be transferred to audit service and HR processed the paperwork and was transferred. This is common practice at the GAC, as it is a new institution with enormous opportunity. Others in Governmental Affairs have been transferred to Performance Audit Department.
In another round of reclassification, which took place recently, and based on the fact that her performance as junior supreme auditor was overwhelmingly dismal as recommended by her supervisors on the HIPC Audit of the Ministry of Health where she was assigned, Ruth Yeaher was reclassified to the position of audit trainee. And she was not the only person affected by the latest reclassification scheme on the basis of merit and recommendations. Almost thirty (30) others were demoted while forty individuals were promoted to various positions based on their outputs as recommended by their supervisors.
As already stated, Ruth was reclassified twice with promotion, while other employees at that time accepted their demotions as a challenge to work hard and strive for excellence for future promotion. In those instances of her promotional reclassification, alleged “sexual harassment” was not the underpinning factor for her. But now that she has got a downward reclassification sentence as a result of poor performance, she is shamelessly making wild, baseless and outrageous allegations to apparently buy undeserved public sentiments. This is how preposterous self-centered desperados and weaklings behave. From all indication and from the assessment of her supervisors, she is not even catching up with executing of audit programs much less learning the trade of audit planning and programming. Others who have been reclassified have promised to double up as it is in their interest to be on par with their colleagues so that when they leave the halls of the GAC, they can perform elsewhere.
It is befitting to note that, Mrs. Yeaher informed GAC that she was pregnant while transitioning from Government Affairs to audit service. She was in and out of the office for nearly 9 months. Records at GAC showed that she gave birth but underwent surgery. GAC usually allows 3 month maternity leave for husband and wife to cater to a new born child, as per the HR Handbook. Mrs. Yeaher took six (6) months with pay, because she submitted a request that she was still not well because of the surgery. AG Office through HR granted the extension, because AG usually asks HR to give women who have given birth some room because he too is a father of 4 boys and he understands the difficulty of working and taking care of a child. In the case of Ruth and like so many others at the GAC, she was also in school. Other women have also benefited from the flexibility when they gave birth. But when Mrs. Yeaher returned to work on the HIPC audit at the Ministry of Health, she was also not putting in any time and delivering any meaningful work. The Engagement Managers had to do hers and others work so that the HIPC audits could be completed in time. This is how she and others were nominated for demotion and AG approved it on the merit.
AG Morlu has an office staff, headed by a Director of Office Staff, who manages the day to day affairs of the AG Office, including handling reclassifications. Records showed that she has not rejected a single transfer requests because she believes that AG Morlu’s principle is to ensure that people find their own bearings, meaning rightful places at the GAC. The Director of Office staff also reviews all promotion and demotion issues, contacting the appropriate engagement managers and directors and consult with HR before making the recommendation to the AG, who is usually busy with high level institutional reform matters. So the question of promotion or demotion emanates from the line supervisors to the Director of the Department and to HR and on to Director of Office staff, before reaching the AG’s desk. Again, 30 people were downwardly reclassified and more than 52 people promoted.
So what is the adverse impact or negative treatment Mrs. Yeaher has received from AG Morlu and GAC to lay claim to "sexual harassment." She does not work under the direct supervision of AG nor does she worked in the Office of the Auditor General, which is managed by a Director. Of the nearly 400 staff at the GAC and all the women in Liberia, AG Morlu just picked one single woman who is about twice his age to harass. How can this be true? But she has the burden of proof. The Liberian people need to see the accuser and then they can decide for themselves. AG Morlu says he is not a blind man. He has two functioning eyes.
2. Wife of Audit Indictee
Madam Ruth Yeaher is a wife of Mr. Alexander P.B. Yeaher who was recently appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the position of Assistant Superintendent for Development for River Gee County. But before Mr. Yeaher got the appointment, he was serving as senior personnel on the Secretariat of the County Development Fund at the Ministry of Internal Affairs where he apparently used is influence wrapped in conflict of interest to acquire CDF construction contracts for his two companies, the Liberia Land Construction Company and the Reliance Services, Inc, which he also served as the Executive Director. Communications between Mr. Yeaher and the county authorities of Margibi and Montserrado showed that he received monies and signed as "Contractor."
An audit of the County Development Fund by the GAC discovered that Ruth’s husband, Mr. Yeaher, took six (6) contracts in Margibi and Monsterrado Counties. He either did not implement the projects or complete them. He lied in front of Senator Cherue and Representative Elijah Sieh that he was just an employee of Liberia Land Construction Company. And when quizzed to identify the owner and business location, he claimed he does not know. But audit records showed that Mr. Yeaher signed as Contractor for monies received on behalf of Liberia Land Construction Company, a bogus company he used to siphon monies from state coffers, taxpayers monies.
For instance, the husband of the woman, Ruth, claiming “sexual harassment”, Alexander Yeaher, signed for the following:
US$54,000 for the Lakayta Town Project to construct an Administrative Building. The project was incomplete.
US$6,904 for Nyawalee Town Project Margibi County. This project was never implemented.
US$1,961.50 to construct a hand pump in Pipeline community in Montserrado County. It is incomplete.
US$1,961.50 for hand pump construction in Red Light Community County, Montserrado. Also incomplete.
US$1,961.50 to construct hand pump construction in the Peace Island Community in Montserrado. This project is incomplete.
US$13,855 of US27,710 for construction of an administrative building in New Kru Town. This project was never implemented by Mr. Yeaher.
Perhaps unaware of these fiscal excesses by Mr. Alex Yeaher, President Sirleaf appointed him River Gee County’s Assistant Superintendent for Development. But the Auditor General of Liberia, pursuant to his mandate to safeguard public money and ward off situations that jeopardize the public coffer as he has done in many other instances, alerted the President. The President immediately, and without a waste of time, disallowed the appointment. Development Superintendents constitute the nerve-center of CDF programs at the local level, and given Mr. Yeaher’s track records, the Auditor General thought sending him to River Gee in that capacity would put the county’s share of the CDF in harm’s way.
The President needs all the information that will enable her not to make the wrong decisions as it relates to appointing people who have stolen public funds. The President is normally accused of recycling people. She takes the blame. But how can she have information on everyone in Government or every private contractor who has connived to steal public funds? In Liberia and in most serious countries like Ghana, Auditors General have a fiduciary responsibility to assist the President make the right decisions as it relates to accountability and transparency issues of the day. Mr. Yeaher is not the first contractor or development superintendent to be reported to the appointing power, the President. Is Ruth suggesting that AG Morlu should have allowed Contractor Yeaher to take seat and further misuse public funds? It is left with the President to accept or ignore the facts, as the Auditor General is only responsible for presenting the facts and that is it. How the President of Liberia uses the facts to promote or diminish accountability, transparency and probity is her Constitutional prerogative. She has the right to appoint all crooks in Government to steal public monies or she can appoint people with clean records to save the Nation’s coffer.
Madam Ruth Yeaher, who is claiming “sexual harassment” against the Auditor General, is Mr. Yeaher’s wife. And her claims are coming out at a point where the Auditor General, in the national interest, had sought to prevent her husband from being an assistant superintendent for development to protect development funds from being further misused and embezzled by Mr. Yeaher. It also comes at a time when the AG had left the country. AG Morlu has been in Liberia for 3 years but now that a demotion is executed and her husband is reported for misusing public funds, there is a cry of “sexual harassment. Wise people are reading between the lines.
In her purported “sexual harassment” communication, Mrs. Yeahers cited the Auditor General’s intervention in her husband’s nomination as a source of contention. She wrote: “Now I am even more suspicious and believe that your actions targeting my husband, Mr. Alexander P.B. Yeaher, by presenting him to the President of Liberia, on April 5, 2010, as a thief of county development fund which has led to the withholding of his induction into office after his confirmation by the Liberian Senate, on April 1, 2010, as Assistant Superintendent for River Gee is all part of your scheme to force me to accept your sexual advance.”
Clearly, the logic and correlation between obstructing her husband’s induction and sexual harassment being grossly twisted and out of order, Mrs. Yeaher has put family interest above the national interest, which is tantamount to conflict of interest in contravention of GAC Hand Book and INTOSAI Code of Ethics. AG Morlu did not go in the field to audit. But he has a responsibility to alert the President. So is he sexually harassing the wives of the more than 100 names in GAC audit reports? Did he sexually harass the wife of former Assistant Superintendent of Cape Mount Fahnbulleh when he informed the President about the US$62,000 embezzlement? If reporting financial crimes to the President is a measure of “sexual harassment”, then so many people will have to line up and accuse AG Morlu.
It was surprising to AG Morlu that Senator Cherue and Representative Elijah Sieh called him to quiz him as to why he informed the President on this matter. AG Morlu informed them that he also informed the President on other matters, including the sacked Assistant Superintendent of Cape Mount. Senator Cherue also was concerned of the timing of the information as Mr. Yeaher was already confirmed by the Senate. He told him that he was working on HIPC and this matter was only brought to his attention lately by the Forensic Audit Team, as he was going to meet with the President and given that two superintendents were jailed by the House of Representatives she might be interested in knowing facts about Bomi and Montserrado CDF Funds, since it was on the basis of the County Development Fund that these superintendents were jailed. Unbeknown to the House of Representatives, they requested the Auditor General to carry out an audit which was already in completing stage.
AG Morlu assured the lawmakers, Cherue and Sieh, that Mr. Yeaher and the caucus could come to the GAC at 10am on Saturday to meet with the Audit Team and that he would also ensure that the Assistant Superintendent of Margibi was also invited. Margibi came and brought additional evidence against Mr. Yeaher, including the arrest warrant for Mr. Yeaher. Mr. Yeaher and Representative Sieh arrived late, nearly two hours late and so the Assistant Superintendent of Margibi had left. But the documents he brought along with the arrest warrant were given to Representative Sieh by the Auditor General who recommended that Mr. Yeaher work with the audit team to resolve the matter including full restitution. They all accepted the proposal.
In the meeting on that Saturday were Representative Sieh, AG Morlu, Senior Forensic Auditor Grant and Forensic Auditor Bettie. Mr. Yeaher agreed to work with the forensic audit team and that was it. Representative Sieh requested to speak with AG Morlu privately and it was accepted. AG Morlu did not agree with his proposal. Senator Williams also came to the AG Office on this matter and he insisted on full accountability. AG Morlu related to Senator Williams his unfavorable conversation with Representative Sieh. Senator Williams confronted Representative Sieh and Sieh called AG Morlu. AG Morlu informed him that the best place to discuss this matter was with the Forensic Audit Team. That was it and AG Morlu left Liberia for America.
So, one can see the extent of high level involvement in these matters, as so many people are attempting to protect personal and family interest against the public interest. AG Morlu is caught between the factual basis of his team of auditors and the protection of individuals by politicians. In the end, AG Morlu has gone only with the side with sufficient, reliable and relevant evidential matter. If people failed to convince AG Morlu to undermine public trust and drop an issue backed by evidence, he gets blamed and accused of all sort of things, with the recent ones being that he is “political” and he is a "sexual harasser." Had AG Morlu agreed for Mr. Yeaher to walk free, will there be an issue of sexual harassment claims? Probably not! But that would have been against the public interest, the interest of the Liberian taxpayers. This interest is above all else, even if AG Morlu and GAC are being accused. In the end, it is the strength of the evidence that matters, not the individuals.
By Mrs. Ruth’s intervention in an audit matter, she violated the GAC Code of Conduct that she signed and the INTOSAI Code of Ethics. She has engaged in direct conflict of interest, against the corruption fight of the GAC. AG Morlu and so many people are related in this Government. He also has a lot of family connections in Liberia. But he has stood firm to ensure that his work is done without fear or favor, even when it involves family members and friends of his family. He has committed to parting with past practices of compromised audits, which was the norm in Liberia for 160 years. Today, Liberians and our international partners can be assured of quality audits that include all material related matters including stealing of public funds. So he is not disturbed or distracted as he has been down this route a multiple times. The fact of the matter is that so many corrupt people want him dismissed and gone so that they can hire their lackeys and stooges to carry on the compromised audits that include only certain names in audit reports and exclude others. With AG Morlu and the current GAC, Liberians will have it all without fear or favor.
It was not only surprising that this last minute accusation from Mrs. Yeaher came at a time when she was demoted among 30 others and her husband, CDF Contractor Yeaher, was reported to the President. It is even surprising that the accusation was a mere letter sent to the Auditor General after he had left the country in April for America. There is no record that she has ever reported an incident of sexual harassment to the HR Department of GAC, the CSA or Ministry of Labor. The first time writing AG Morlu on such matters was immediately copied to all including the President and European Union, as well as every local and international group and members of the National Legislature. What was the purpose of that, other than to malign AG Morlu without any evidence that such acts occurred.
For instance, Mrs. Yeaher did not even indicate to evidence anything. Instead, she made a sweeping allegation, perhaps hoping that it will stick and help her cause the President to reappoint her husband. It is like saying, "Minister X harassed me," without providing some proof. It is cheap for anyone to make such a reckless claim. If this allegation was made against the President, it is likely she would have sued immediately as we have seen in several instances. This is because the accused has a constitutional right to be presented with evidence, especially as it relates to a sexual harassment accusation against a married man of 14 years and 4 children.
Where is the proof is what GAC would like to know and which Mrs. Yeaher has failed to present. For instance, evidence of the following would help:
• When did the harassment take place, such as, is it before her pregnancy, during her pregnancy or after her pregnancy?
• How was the harassment done, such as via phone, email, text message, letter, verbal, etc. AG Morlu has two numbers registered through GAC with Libercell. We have copies of all phone records, if she indicated it was via phone. She can provide email, text message, letter etc. AG Morlu is at any time with a minimum of two security guards, she could indicate where if it was verbal.
• How long was the harassment, one time, two times, 100 times etc?
• Why has it not been reported as AG Morlu has been in Liberia for 3 years and not a single soul has accused him of moral impropriety.
• Why is her complaint, if considered serious, directed at the AG, the accused, and not institutions copied?
SHADOWS BEYOND MRS. YEAHER’S CLAIMS
While it is true that well-meaning people, both Liberians and international friends, will understand that that Ruth Yeaher’s accusation against the Auditor General is a blatant lie, diabolical blackmail and a terror tactic being orchestrated to settle scores over her demotion and the AG’s intervention in her husband’s job acquisition process, the General Auditing Commission is of the strong conviction that Yeaher’s false allegation is not standing in isolation. It is part and parcel of a grand battle to finally ravage and silence the Auditor General once and for all, detonate the GAC’s audit program, and exterminate the fight against fraud, waste and abuse.
In the last three years, the GAC, in consonance with its statutory mandate, commissioned audits, produced and published a plethora of reports which invariably and empirically unveiled untold plunder and pillage of taxpayer’s money. Audit indictees have often responded to the reports and recommendations with venoms. Some have cursed the Auditor General and rained vituperations on him and the GAC. Auditors are attacked and brutalized while on job. The Auditor General is called all kinds of names by audit indictees, including cabinet ministers of Government: unprofessional; unethical; witch-hunter; incompetent, gangster, political, etc. Others openly threaten to fight back with no details on the nature of their fight. Some officials of Government openly said the GAC has done nothing in Liberia’s recovery drive and have incited the public against the Commission.
Because, even in the case of Ruth Yeaher’s “harassment case”, one can see the shadow of big hands, that the President has brushed aside an evidence-backed advice to withdraw her appointment and induction of the lady’s husband as development superintendent. As it shows, that the President has got explicit confidence in someone found to have tempered with the success of the President’s cherished County Development Fund, it cannot be an accident that Ruth Yeaher has got the gut to coin and manufacture an accusation on the Auditor General.
Government has long pampered audit indictees, who have found solace and protection under her inaction and apparent acquiescence. As the cabal of kleptocrats get assurance of their safety and get away with impunity, and having failed to demean and weaken the Auditor General and the GAC’s resolve to push the anti-corruption war to its logical conclusion, a new dimension of attack, coming in Ruth Yeaher’s “sexual harassment” allegation is being pursued and orchestrated perhaps as a final blow to silence the Auditor General and obliterate the relevance of the GAC.
The corruption war is made perilous not merely by this false alarm hooted by Ruth Yeaher, but also by an even more dangerous possibility that the forces of graft would scheme and feign more felonious crimes against the Auditor General in the near future.
Liberians and members of the civilized community are therefore called upon to keep a close watch on evolving developments characterizing the war against corruption as it obtains between the GAC and audit indictees under the protection of the Government.
Amid the plots and scheming, nevertheless, the GAC assures the public that the Auditor General and his able staff remain unperturbed, ever robust, vigilant and potent in fighting fraud, waste and abuse. And, God willing, we and the larger anti-corruption forces in and out of this country will win because we are on the side of good; and it is natural that good prevails always over evil as light does over darkness.
SHERMAN C. SEEQUEH
Chief Communications Officer
General Auditing Commission (GAC)