American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative is a long-term effort to set up potential FOIA litigation on issues that are also likely to become the targets of congressional investigations.
Federal agencies are adept at handling one kind of investigation at a time; they know how to deflect congressional inquiries or delay responses to FOIA requests. But when independent FOIA litigation is paired with aggressive congressional investigation, it creates a feedback loop of oversight that is much harder for agencies to resist.
Read more about American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative here.
The FOIA requests below have been crafted to mirror oversight letters sent by both the chairs and ranking members of committees in the House and Senate. Federal agencies generally feel that they can ignore document requests sent by anyone other than a committee chair – but if control of Congress changes hands in the upcoming midterm elections, today’s ranking members could become the new committee chairs. If that happens, they will have the ability compel the Trump administration to answer their questions, and American Oversight will be ready to file FOIA lawsuits seeking the same documents.
And while the current Congress has largely failed to hold the Trump administration accountable, several committees have opened limited investigations into former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. American Oversight has also sent FOIAs paralleling oversight letters signed by committee chairs seeking information about the Census Bureau’s information technology systems, the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements at the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.