American Oversight Announces Heather Sawyer as New Executive Director

American Oversight today announced the selection of Heather Sawyer as the group’s next executive director. Sawyer is a leader in government oversight and congressional investigations as well as an experienced and highly regarded civil rights lawyer.

Sawyer will join American Oversight as the watchdog is engaged in high-profile lawsuits in Arizona and Wisconsin seeking to expose the inner workings of those states’ partisan reviews of the 2020 election. Founded in 2017, American Oversight quickly established itself as an aggressive and effective public records litigator, obtaining and publishing documents from inside numerous federal and state government agencies — including key parts of the paper trail linking senior White House and Cabinet officials to the Ukraine scandal at the center of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment.

Heather Sawyer, incoming executive director of American Oversight, said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining the talented team at American Oversight. Over the past five years, American Oversight has been relentless in the pursuit of the truth and has become an essential force in ensuring that government officials at all levels are held accountable to the people they serve. I’m excited to work alongside the whole team and our external partners to grow this legacy.”

Kyle Herrig, interim executive director and board member of American Oversight, said:

“We’re incredibly excited to have Heather Sawyer join American Oversight at this critical moment for our democracy. Heather brings unmatched expertise in using the tools of investigation and oversight to hold powerful leaders to account, and American Oversight will be greatly strengthened by her experience as a leader and civil rights litigator.”

Sawyer spent 13 years on Capitol Hill, helping to manage a wide range of government oversight investigations and working to pass legislation to protect and expand the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. As a staff member of the House Judiciary Committee, Sawyer helped draft the Respect for Marriage Act and led the creation of the congressional amicus briefs in the Windsor and Obergefell cases before the Supreme Court. She then served as chief counsel for the Select Committee on Benghazi and as staff director and general counsel for the select panel created to investigate reproductive health care providers in 2015 — managing the investigations for the Democratic members of those inquiries and fighting to defend the truth and expose misinformation.

In her work for the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2017 through 2020, first as chief oversight counsel and later as staff director and chief counsel, Sawyer led congressional oversight for the Democratic committee members, including negotiating a bipartisan investigative plan regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Prior to her time working for Congress, Sawyer was the assistant director and a visiting professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center’s Federal Legislation Clinic. Before that, she served as senior counsel at Lambda Legal for nearly a decade, leading lawsuits challenging restrictions on parenting and marital rights of gay men and lesbians, establishing legal protections for transgender Chicagoans, seeking adequate protection for LGBTQ students in schools, and ensuring access to health, housing, and employment opportunities for people living with HIV. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School.

American Oversight is currently pursuing active investigations in more than two dozen states and multiple federal agencies, using public records requests — backed by litigation when necessary — to expose threats to democracy, attacks on voting rights, mistreatment of immigrants, and other misconduct or abuses of power. The watchdog group’s investigation into the Arizona Senate’s “audit” of 2020 election ballots revealed the extensive influence of the partisan networks behind that effort. A separate investigation earlier this year in Florida revealed the contacts between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. For more on American Oversight’s latest findings, current investigations, and the records that have been uncovered, see

Sawyer will join American Oversight as executive director in early July. Herrig will continue to serve as interim executive director until that time.