After reports exposing a culture of harassment and retaliation in Missouri’s prisons, the director of the agency sent a resignation letter to agency employees, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Department of Corrections chief George Lombardi remains on the job for now, but his eight-year tenure as Gov. Jay Nixon’s point man on prisons will not be renewed by Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. Lombardi said he believes the initiatives put in place during his tenure have made Missouri a national model. “I now walk away with as much dignity as I can muster and with the advice to each and every one of you to stand tall and have great pride in all you do each and every day,” he told colleagues.
Lombardi refused to elaborate, telling the Post-Dispatch, “I’m not interested in talking to you.” Pitch.com in Kansas City reported that the state has paid more than $7.5 million in damages to employees who alleged they were harassed at work because of sex, religion or disability, and retaliated against for speaking out. The volume of lawsuits, particularly alleging harassment and retaliation, exploded in the last four years. The allegations triggered calls for probes by the state legislature and state Auditor Nicole Galloway. House Speaker Todd Richardson envisions a joint House-Senate investigation. Greitens is conducting a national search for a replacement for Lombardi. “The governor-elect is committed to substantial reform and cleaning things up,” said an aide.