Treasury Department Launches Investigation Into Delays Behind Harriet Tubman $20 Bill

The Department of Treasury announced it would be issuing a new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman, but last month Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that won’t happen until 2028. Now, the acting inspector general says he’s launching an investigation into the cause of the delay.

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The Treasury Department will conduct an investigation into the circumstances leading to a delay in the production of a new $20 bill featuring a portrait of slave-turned-slave-emancipator Harriet Tubman.

In a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released Monday, acting Inspector General Rich Delmar explained the inquiry will be folded into a larger examination of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s project management processes for new note design that was already in the works.

“As part of this work, we will interview the stakeholders involved in the new note design process,” Delmar wrote.

In 2016, the Treasury Department announced it would replace President Andrew Jackson’s face with that of the famed abolitionist by 2020. As NPR reported, the update would have made Tubman the first woman since Martha Washington to appear on an American currency note and the first ever African American. But last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the redesign will be delayed until 2028.

Schumer called on the department to launch an investigation last week, specifically asking for a review of “the involvement of other participants in the interagency process related to the redesign – including the Secret Service, Federal Reserve, and the White House – to ensure that political considerations have not been allowed to infect the process for designing American currency.”

Delmar noted the review will seek interviews with officials, including senior executives from Treasury, BEP, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), United States Secret Service and the Board’s Currency Technology Office.

He added it will take approximately 10 months.

“If, in the course of our audit work, we discover indications of the employee misconduct or other matters that warrant a referral to our Office of Investigations, we will do so expeditiously,” Delmar said.

Before he was elected, President Trump was critical of a redesign that would eliminate Jackson’s image, saying the move was motivated by “pure political correctness.”

Jackson “represented somebody that really was very important to this country,” Trump said in a Today show interview. He suggested it would be “more appropriate” to put Tubman’s image on a note of different denomination.

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Another American Tourist Death Reported In The Dominican Republic

The entrance of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is seen this month in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. A tourist died unexpectedly after getting sick two months ago at the hotel.

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Family members identified the latest victim in the recent string of American tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic as Vittorio Caruso of Glen Cove, N.Y.

His family said Caruso was retired. He recently sold a pizzeria he co-owned with his brother for more than a decade in Glen Cove, and decided to vacation on the island, News12 Long Island reported. Lisa Maria Caruso said her 56-year-old brother-in-law died on June 17. She said officials initially told the family that Caruso was sick. Then they received another call informing them that he had died. The Caruso family expect to receive a full autopsy report and are working with the U.S. embassy and the FBI to get his body released.

At least eight Americans have died in the popular vacation destination this year. As NPR has reported, there were similarities in seven other deaths — most described as happening suddenly, and several after an alcoholic drink. However U.S. officials have not determined whether there is any connection.

In response to the deaths, some tourists have changed their plans to vacation on the island. An official from the U.S. State Department told NPR that in general, “over 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year, and we have not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported to the Department.”

Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García told reporters Friday at a conference in the capital, Santo Domingo, that the incidents are isolated. He said in any six-month period, it is not unusual for eight people to die on vacation. Despite rumors and assumptions, García said the victims’ autopsy reports cited pre-existing conditions and natural causes. He said he’s hoping to clear the Dominican Republic’s reputation, ensuring that when people hear its name they know it is a “clean and safe country … and a country who treats their tourists like royalty.”

García said officials are enhancing internal security measures at hotels, including closely monitoring food and beverages.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana recently decided to remove “liquor dispensers” in its guest rooms. It says alcoholic beverages will still be available around the clock.

“All of the alcohol on property will continue to be brand name and sourced from the U.S., with the exception of a Dominican Republic specialty, Mama Juana, and local beer, Presidente, that we carry to support our community,” the hotel said in a statement.

The Punta Cana hotel is also working to create a U.S.-based health care facility to guarantee that the on-site clinic is “complying with all international and U.S. standards of care” in case visitors need medical care.

Customer care assistance manager Penelope Polanco told NPR the decisions are unrelated to the series of reported deaths, but are an effort to ensure the “tranquility” of their guests.

“We don’t want anybody to be afraid,” she said. “If this is something that’ll help them to feel more comfortable then we’ll do it.”

The FBI is helping local officials investigate three of the reported deaths.

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