Meanwhile, the chief law enforcement ranger at the park, Canaveral National Seashore, is still collecting his $83,000 salary despite a pattern of unwanted sexual advances to female subordinates and other misconduct identified by the Park Service’s watchdog, the inspector general for the Interior Department.
Edwin Correa has been working from his home in St. Cloud, Fla., since June. He is updating emergency management and hurricane planning for national parks in the Southeast and helping to plan refresher courses for law enforcement rangers, officials said.
The case of a third Canaveral manager who told a woman who works for him that her peach-colored dress resembled a Creamsicle and that he could “lick it up,” according to investigators, is “still in process,” said Roxanne Dey, Park Service spokeswoman for the Southeast region.
Palfrey’s reassignment — she will keep her $116,000 salary — came days before a hearing scheduled for Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Park Service’s response to sexual harassment allegations at several parks.
The agency’s newly appointed deputy director, Michael Reynolds, is scheduled to testify.
Reynolds’s boss, Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, has said that stopping sexual misconduct is his top priority. He has increased online training for employees and encouraged victims to come forward.
At the same time, Jarvis is facing congressional calls for his resignation as critics say he has failed to hold his top managers answerable for misconduct.
At Canaveral National Seashore, investigations and interviews with nine current and former park employees revealed a troubling workplace culture in the remote park 57 miles east of Orlando.
The Washington Post reported in July that interviews and inspector general reports show that the park has been run like a fiefdom where the brass broke the rules to hire friends and relatives for jobs and contracts, punished employees who blew the whistle and mistreated subordinates they did not like. Some of the mismanagement was repeated after warnings from investigators.
Correa denied any inappropriate behavior, calling his actions “cultural misunderstandings” in an interview. Palfrey has declined requests for comment from The Post.
Dey said Palfrey reported one of the sexual-harassment allegations to the appropriate officials as soon as she became aware of them. At the time, there were no official complaints about sexual harassment, Dey said.
The Merit Systems Protection Board found last year that Palfrey’s management team had retaliated against a whistleblower who revealed financial mismanagement at the park. An administrative judge for the board said Palfrey’s testimony in the case was not believable.
Palfrey’s temporary reassignment “may be intended to move her aside until the heat dies down,” Ruch said. “Among other things, this move underlines just how little the Park Service values strategic planning.”