The audit by the State Department Office of Inspector General found that Gration repeatedly violated diplomatic security protocols at the embassy by using unsecured Internet connections despite warnings, according to a former State Department Africa Bureau official who has seen a draft of the report.
Embassy staffers complained about his lack of interpersonal skills and confrontational style, which generated low morale, the former official said.
A former major general in the Air Force, Gration had prided himself on his leadership and team-building skills, and his staff’s perceptions of him were a huge blow, the former official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he still works in Washington.
Gration, who became ambassador 13 months ago, said in his statement that the diplomatic assignment had been “the perfect opportunity to use my deep-rooted knowledge of Kenya — its people, its language, and its culture — and my diplomatic, development, security, and humanitarian experience.” He said he would deeply miss Kenya and its people.
“I am very proud of my 35-year career of dedicated and honorable service to our great nation, leading at all times with integrity first and the highest ethical standards,” he said.
A request for additional comment sent to Gration’s personal e-mail address was not returned.
The security violations could have resulted in Gration losing his government security clearance, preventing him from holding a position in the State Department. “You cannot be a U.S. ambassador without a security clearance,” the former official said.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the inspector general’s report was part of a routine inspection of the embassy, but she declined to comment on its contents. “We wish him well as he moves into private life,” she said.
Gration’s resignation is not the first time a U.S. ambassador has stepped down ahead of a scathing inspector general’s report. Last year, Cynthia Stroum, a venture capitalist and major fundraiser for Obama, left her position as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg after the report found that her “confrontational management style” had brought the embassy “to a state of dysfunction.”
Kenya, an economic powerhouse in East Africa, is a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, particularly against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militia in neighboring Somalia.
A U.S. Embassy advisory last week warning of an imminent terrorist attack in Kenya’s southern port city of Mombasa stirred tension between Nairobi and the State Department. Worried that the warning could further harm its tourism industry and economic growth, the Kenyan government publicly described it as “economic sabotage.”