Defending the Public’s Right to Hold Government Accountable

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives the public the right to access government records - but at least one Congressional committee has instructed federal agencies to withhold many records when responding to FOIA requests. American Oversight is going to court to challenge this new attack on government transparency and to defend the public's right to hold government officials accountable.

What We’re Seeking

  • Communications between five executive branch agencies, including the Treasury Department, and the House Financial Services Committee

Background

In early April, Chairman Jeb Hensarling of the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter to 12 Trump administration agencies – including the Treasury Department – instructing them that communications between the committee and those agencies should not be released to the public when responding to requests made under FOIA.

According to Buzzfeed:

“The chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services sent a letter last month to the head of the Treasury Department instructing him to decline Freedom of Information requests relating to communications between the two offices…. The letter reads that since the Committee on Financial Services has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the Treasury Department, all records of communication between the two offices and any documents produced remain in the committee’s control — even when in the physical possession of the Treasury Department.”

FOIA generally applies to the executive branch, and it gives the public a right to access a wide range of government records. There are a variety of reasons that the government can withhold certain information – such as to protect national security or personal privacy – but the law does not contain a blanket exemption for congressional correspondence with the executive branch, and the public is entitled to those records.

Related Documents

February 20, 2018

Records From Treasury Emails With House Financial Services

Department of the Treasury
Agency Record
October 23, 2017

OCC Correspondence with the House Financial Services Committee

Department of the Treasury
Agency Record
September 19, 2017

Department of Treasury Response to Complaint

Department of the Treasury, National Credit Union Administration
Litigation
September 7, 2017

OCC Communications with Congress

Comptroller of the Currency, Department of the Treasury
Agency Record
August 30, 2017

Federal Reserve Communications with Congress Regarding Regulatory Reform

Federal Reserve
Agency Record
August 16, 2017

FHFA Hensarling Communications FOIA Response

Federal Housing Finance Agency
Agency Record
August 2, 2017

NCUA Final Responsive Records Regarding American Oversight May 9 FOIA Request

National Credit Union Administration
Agency Record
July 31, 2017

FOIA Request to NCUA Communications With Congress Regarding FOIA

National Credit Union Administration
FOIA Request
July 21, 2017

NCUA Hensarling Communications FOIA Response

National Credit Union Administration
Agency Record
June 22, 2017

FOIA Request to NCUA About Prior American Oversight FOIA Request

National Credit Union Administration
FOIA Request
June 22, 2017

CFPB Hensarling Communications FOIA Response

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Agency Record
May 12, 2017

FOIA Request to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Communications with House Ways and Means Committee

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to HUD Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to the Federal Reserve Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Federal Reserve
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to National Credit Union Administration Communications with House Financial Services Committee

National Credit Union Administration
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to Federal Housing Finance Agency Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Federal Housing Finance Agency
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
May 9, 2017

FOIA Request to CFPB Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
FOIA Request
May 5, 2017

FOIA Request to Treasury Department Communications with House Financial Services Committee

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request