FOIA Update
April 1, 2024

WASHINGTON – Empower Oversight is learning from multiple former employees of the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) that the agency is being used as a personal fiefdom for the Assistant Director by rewarding women with whom he appears to have engaged in inappropriate relationships, among other concerns.

The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) serves as a critical tool for local and state law enforcement, as well as national security and intelligence community partners. CJIS houses multiple data services for every police department and law enforcement agency in the United States.

“Despite CJIS’s crucial mission, Empower Oversight has obtained information from whistleblowers that suggests CJIS is suffering from a lack of oversight. Most recently, Assistant Director (“AD”) Michael Christman has allegedly run CJIS as a personal fiefdom to reward those loyal to him. Not only is this an improper use of taxpayer dollars, it also risks undermining CJIS’s many programs and the missions they serve,” Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt wrote in a letter requesting records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

According to former employees, Christman has promoted multiple women with whom he appears to have engaged in inappropriate relationships. For instance, former employees have reported to Empower Oversight that AD Christman and a female CJIS employee were observed in a state of undress on a Saturday night in the CJIS gymnasium. That female employee has been promoted quickly.

Among other improprieties, Christman also reportedly claimed to have nightly phone calls with a female employee who did not report directly to him but was then provided awards and monetary compensation.

Leavitt also writes in his letter that when Christman has been challenged on his behavior, he reportedly responds by threatening to move CJIS from West Virginia, which would require the relocation of hundreds of native West Virginians. He has also  retaliated against employees by moving them  into temporary positions for “cross-training,” similar to Empower Oversight’s client Monica Shillingburg ,who had made protected disclosures about the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System while Christman served as a Deputy Assistant Director of CJIS. Leavitt writes in the letter, “On returning to CJIS as AD, Christman took retaliatory action against Ms. Shillingburg, transferring her from a Unit Chief position to a non-supervisory position in another section. Empower Oversight has filed a whistleblower reprisal complaint on her behalf with the Department of Justice Inspector General.”

Because of these and numerous other reports from former employees, Empower Oversight is seeking records through FOIA to shed light on possible FBI wrongdoing as well as law enforcement policy, specifically sexual harassment, threats and intimidation against employees, and the FBI exempting high-level executives from mandatory retirement when those executives have allegedly engaged in misconduct.

For the complete letter, click here.