New Watchdog Demands DOJ Investigation of Records Law Violations
Investigators Will Use Public Records and Legal Challenges to Uncover Misconduct Across Executive Branch Agencies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress has abdicated its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities of the executive branch – from failing to vet individuals before they take office to explicitly refusing to investigate conflicts of interest and misconduct. In response to that inaction, American Oversight, a new, non-partisan, ethics organization launched today to hold the administration accountable to the American people.
The 501(c)(3) group will rely on state and federal public records laws and other investigative and legal tools to uncover and publicize information about malfeasance and corruption by administration officials.
American Oversight is led by experienced litigator Austin Evers who will serve as Executive Director and ethics expert Melanie Sloan who will serve as Senior Advisor. Evers and Sloan will be supported by an in-house litigation team and outside counsel who will be retained for project-specific work.
“Right now, there’s a perfect storm of corruption and scandal brewing. President Trump is creating a culture of impunity across his administration and yet Congress refuses to fulfill its constitutional responsibility of conducting oversight,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight.
“American Oversight will hold the administration accountable by filling the void left by Congress,” said Senior Advisor Melanie Sloan. “Americans across the political spectrum demand an ethical government. If Congress won’t do its job and investigate wrongdoing, we will.”
Today, American Oversight asked the Department of Justice and the U.S. National Archives to investigate the use of non-governmental email and messaging apps – some of which automatically delete messages – to conduct government business. Failing to preserve such communications may violate federal law, including the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act. Previously, Congress conducted aggressive oversight investigations when concerned that administration officials, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, might have violated federal record-keeping laws.
“No one is above the law. If members of the new administration are breaking the law by using personal email accounts or encrypted applications, they must be held accountable,” said Evers. “The Justice Department and National Archives should immediately investigate these potentially illegal communications.”
American Oversight will post its information requests, complaints, and legal actions on its website, AmericanOversight.org, which also includes a link for anyone with information about potential government misconduct to share tips or documents.
To view the Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by American Oversight click HERE.