Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, had virtually no experience working with displaced populations before the Trump administration put him in charge of the agency responsible for helping tens of thousands of refugees settle in the U.S. every year, not to mention the care of the more than 10,000 children who arrive in the country alone.
And that lack of experience has shown in his job performance. Under Lloyd, the number of children in custody has reached an all time high and the number of days those kids spend in government custody has nearly doubled. O.R.R. has blown though its budget and is borrowing money set aside for other programs to cover its ballooning costs. Lloyd is embroiled in an ACLU lawsuit, and reportedly being blamed, in part, for the government’s failure to keep track of children it separated from their parents at the border earlier this year.
Lloyd, whose prior experience was in pushing anti-abortion legislation at the state level, has gone back to his roots. Politico reports that Lloyd has been working on an anti-abortion book during his time as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Lloyd did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s inquiry about the book.
Says Mary Alice Carter, executive director of Equity Forward, an HHS watchdog that has lobbied for Lloyd’s ouster, says: “I can’t even.”
“When I saw the news today I could not believe that this was what the person that is in this position is spending his time,” Carter tells Rolling Stone.
But Carter says the report tracks perfectly with what she’s observed of Lloyd, who came to the job, she says, with “next to no experience with refugee populations and a resume a mile long on anti-abortion work.”
Before he was even confirmed to the job, internal emails obtained as part of the ACLU lawsuit showed that Lloyd had asked for an accounting of all of the pregnant girls in his custody, plus their location and number of weeks gestation. In a deposition for that case, Lloyd confirmed that he receives a copy of the spreadsheet on a weekly basis. He’s used it to keep track of the girls in O.R.R. care who are seeking abortions and then attempt to block their access to the procedure.
Lloyd, according to Politico’s sources, has been working on the book while in his job at O.R.R. “It should be enraging to everyone who cares about this issue. I do hope Alex Azar fires him and I certainly hope that this Congress pulls together an investigation of the heads of this office and what happened during this crisis,” Carter says. “It’s really time for this Congress to do some investigating and oversight.”
It’s unclear why Azar, who since taking over at HHS has cleaned house of some of former Secretary Tom Price’s more controversial hires, hasn’t let Lloyd go — even after he was reportedly relieved of some of his duties for failing to adequately track children the Trump administration separated from their families. “I would love someone to ask him directly,” Carter says. “I can’t imagine any of us doing our jobs this poorly and staying in it.” Asked directly by Rolling Stone, an HHS spokesperson had no comment.
The prospect of Lloyd’s book, though, could further imperil his job security. Former White House ethics adviser Richard Painter, now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law school, says there are two ways in which it could run afoul of ethics rules: first, if it violates a federal prohibition on outside earned income, and second, if Lloyd uses his role as O.R.R. director to promote the book.
“If you use the official position to advertise the book, that would be use of public office for private gain,” Painter says. “It’s no different from Kellyanne Conway trying to shell for Ivanka’s clothes on Fox News.”