New Hampshire Redistricting: In August 2019, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire unexpectedly vetoed bipartisan legislation to create an independent redistricting commission, a decision defended by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in an op-ed written weeks later. American Oversight was recently admitted as co-counsel to a New Hampshire resident’s public records lawsuit for communications between Sununu’s office and Walker or other voting-rights restrictionists.
What Has Susan Pompeo Been Doing at the State Department?: This week, we filed a lawsuit against the State Department for records that could shed light on the role Susan Pompeo, wife of Secretary Mike Pompeo, has played at the department. Secretary Pompeo is the subject of a number of allegations of misconduct, from using taxpayer-funded employees for personal errands to using official trips to support his own political ambitions. Reporting also suggests that Susan Pompeo, despite having no official position, has at times chaired meetings and has had staff dedicated to her. We’re suing for related records, including any calendars kept for her or emails she sent using a government account.
Will Hospitals Be Reimbursed for Treating Uninsured Covid-19 Patients?: In April, Trump stated that the federal government would reimburse hospitals and health-care providers for treating uninsured Covid-19 patients using a fund included in the CARES Act for provider relief. As of June 15, $112.4 billion of that fund had been allocated to provider relief grants separate from the uninsured reimbursement program, and experts are concerned that there may not be enough funds for uninsured care. We filed FOIA requests to the Department of Health and Human Services for assessments concerning the availability of federal funds to cover the uninsured.
Meat Industry Food Shortages: Reporting on findings by a federal Food Supply Chain Task Force suggests that the country could experience food shortages as workers in the meat industry lack personal protective equipment. Meat plants are reopening, but in May the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said that at least 30 meatpacking workers had died from Covid-19. We asked multiple agencies for records from the Food Supply Chain Task Force and for high-ranking officials’ communications about potential food shortages.
Canceled Coronavirus Study: In May, 77 Nobel laureates denounced the Trump administration’s decision to cancel a National Institutes of Health research grant previously awarded to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which planned to use the grant to study coronaviruses in bats. The cancellation occurred shortly after unproven reports linked the bat study to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, despite the fact that the president of EcoHealth confirmed to NIH that its current funding had not gone to the institute. We filed FOIA requests to HHS for assessments, directives, and communications regarding the study’s cancellation.
Investigating Military Response to Police Brutality Protests: In early June, Trump threatened to deploy the military to respond to civil disturbances associated with protests sparked by the May police killing of George Floyd. The government had used low-flying military helicopters to disperse protesters, and last week a military official confirmed reporting that bayonets had been issued to troops responding to the protests in Washington, D.C., some of whom were not trained in riot response. We filed a FOIA request with the Department of Defense for recent records, such as briefings or talking points, regarding options for military response to protests.
Trump’s Loyalty Purges: News reports indicate that the White House has continued its efforts to remove “disloyal” officials from government positions. John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, is reportedly involved in coordinating these removals. According to Politico, in March, Dale Cabaniss abruptly resigned as the director of the Office of Personnel Management because of “poor treatment” by McEntee, and was replaced by Michael Rigas, who is simultaneously serving as acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. We’ve previously asked for records related to Cabaniss’ departure, and this week we’re asking OMB for her emails related to her resignation and for communications about efforts to remove officials. We’re also asking OMB and OPM for ethics documents of senior officials.
McConnell’s Trade Policy Agenda: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has advocated for various trade proposals put forward by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Small Business Administration, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). We filed FOIA requests with both USTR and SBA for communications with McConnell’s office.
Misconduct at the NCUA: High-ranking officials at the National Credit Union Administration have been accused of numerous instances of misconduct in recent years. Former Chairman J. Mark McWatters made exorbitant expenses while in office, and former General Counsel Michael McKenna reportedly drank alcohol and visited strip clubs during business hours. We’re interested in how current NCUA officials are spending taxpayer dollars, and have filed a FOIA request for expenses and reimbursement records.
Georgia Supreme Court Election Canceled: In May, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger canceled an election to fill a state supreme court seat that had been vacated by Republican Justice Keith Blackwell. The cancellation allows Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint Blackwell’s replacement, ensuring the seat will be occupied by a conservative justice. We’re asking the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office and the Office of the Governor for communications concerning the election.
Voting-Restriction Influences in the States: As part of our investigation into state officials’ contacts with voting-restriction activists and groups, we filed 35 new records requests in multiple states (Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas) for officials’ and lawmakers’ communications.
Part of Investigation: