A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. / REUTERS

VA Diversity Official's Statement Against White Supremacists Rejected by Trump Appointee

The top communications official at the Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly told Georgia Coffey, the chief diversity officer, not to condemn white supremacists after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va. Coffey chose to rock the bigot boat, but frustrated by lack of support from the Trump administration, she jumped ship.


Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pushed the agency to issue a statement against the “repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,” according to emails from August 2017, given to The Washington Post by American Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group.

Coffey’s statement conflicted with President Trump’s response in which he blamed “many sides” for the rally where Heather Heyer was killed. She also said that Charlottesville was “a tragic reminder that our work in civil rights and inclusion is not finished.”

The same week Coffey drafted the remarks for dissemination by VA Secretary David Shulkin, he broke with Trump by saying the violence “outraged” him, which made waves.

So John Ullyot, the VA’s chief communications official, a Trump appointee, told Coffey in an email to stand down.

His directive allegedly came from the White House, where officials were “scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments,” sources told The Post.

Coffey intended for the statement to be sent to 380,000 VA employees of whom more than 40 percent are minorities. It would’ve also been made public.

She said in an email that paring down the statement would “dilute my message and fail to convey the sense of condemnation that I hope we all feel.”

It seems the racism and violence that occurred in Charlottesville, along with Trump’s indifference prompted a tipping point in her career at the VA — Coffey published the statement on her own.

The full remarks were published under her name in the September 2017 newsletter posted by the VA’s diversity office. But it was removed and she was reportedly reprimanded.

On the VA’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion website, there’s no newsletter listed for September 2017.

Coffey retired from her position after getting burnt by the Trump administration. In November 2017, she began work as senior manager for diversity and inclusion at Lockheed Martin. She has not commented to the press about the discovery of the emails.

Reader Question: Georgia Coffey made a bold move. Would you have done the same in a similar situation

Latest News

tractor in field

White Farmers Sue To Stop Debt Relief Program for Farmers of Color

A federal judge in Wisconsin has temporarily halted a government program designed to help chronically disadvantaged farmers of color repay their loans — or forgive their debt altogether. Laura Schulte of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “a temporary restraining order was handed down Thursday afternoon [June 10] by Judge…

stock exchange

Fortune 500 List 2021 Includes Record Number of Black Women and Female CEOs

When Fortune magazine announced its annual Fortune 500 list ranking the 500 largest United States corporations by total revenue last week, there were a couple of notable and historic inclusions. The list contained more female CEOs — particularly Black female CEOs — than ever before. Taylor Dunn of ABC News…

Emancipation Proclamation

Illinois Museum To Host Juneteenth Exhibit and Display a Rare, Signed Copy of Emancipation Proclamation

As we draw closer to this year’s Juneteenth celebrations on June 19, marking the 156th anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States, an Illinois museum has announced that it will help to mark the occasion by putting a rare, signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation on display…

Keystone XL PIpeline

Controversial Keystone XL Pipeline — Opposed by Indigenous Populations and Environmentalists Alike — Officially Killed

The Keystone XL Pipeline, a project equally reviled by environmentalists as well as the country’s Indigenous populations, is officially dead. Reuters has reported that the “$9 billion oil pipeline [that] became a symbol of the rising political clout of climate change advocates, and a flashpoint in U.S.-Canada relations was officially…

Jacksonville Florida's Acosta Bridge

Jacksonville, Florida City Officials Restore Pride Month Lights on Local Bridge Following Community Backlash

It’s been a colorful week of back and forth for city officials in Jacksonville, Florida. On Monday, June 7, the city debuted a decorative rainbow-light colored theme in downtown Jacksonville to help usher in Pride Month celebrations. The lights mimicked similar red, white and blue displays from previous months that…