American Oversight Sues HHS to Release Appointee Pledges

American Oversight today sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to shed light on whether the Trump administration required political  appointees to sign political pledges prior to working at the agency.

Since taking office, President Trump has made it apparent that he expects personal loyalty from his appointees. American Oversight is investigating whether or not President Trump or any other senior officials at HHS have required employees to pledge their support for the Republican party or particular values prior to their employment.

American Oversight submitted a FOIA to Health and Human Services this past June seeking records of agreements, certifications, oaths, or any other type of pledge prior to being employed at the agency. These pledges may include nondisclosure agreements or promises to support certain policy positions like: repealing the ACA, religious liberty, the right to bear arms, and anti-abortion or other “pro-life” ideologies.

According to Politico, religious activists are influencing policy at HHS — including establishing protections for health care providers with “moral objections” to certain medical procedures, potentially restricting access to abortion and transgender care. The reporting also highlights the ways in which senior HHS staff have pushed anti-choice beliefs and posted public comments that are anti-abortion.

In September 2017, we received resumes of political appointees at HHS and found that many listed anti-choice beliefs and former work experience at religious or pro-life organizations. The resume of Matthew S. Bowman includes work experience as a “full-time pro-life volunteer.” Bowman now serves as deputy general counsel for HHS where he advises the secretary and is able to roll back the same birth control protections that he fought against in his previous position with Alliance Defending Freedom.

See the complaint below:

Part of Investigation: