One Year of American Oversight

One year ago today, we launched American Oversight with a mission that was anything but simple: hold the Trump administration accountable by extracting evidence of corruption, malfeasance, or other misconduct. By highlighting the administration’s own words and documents, we let the corrupt condemn themselves.

1 year

750 public records requests

37 lawsuits

10,000s of pages of government records

The Trump administration has exceeded even our most pessimistic expectations; everywhere we’ve looked, we have seen issues demanding urgent investigation. From spending on luxury flights and office furniture, to nepotism and outright lies, Trump appointees have amassed an unprecedented record of corruption demanding urgent public scrutiny.

In response, we have submitted more than 750 public records requests to over 35 different agencies and several states – and when the Trump administration has tried to stonewall us, we’ve filed 37 lawsuits to enforce our right to get answers from our government.

The results are clear: No one in the Trump administration is immune from accountability. At this point, it’s safe to say American Oversight has a reputation with Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Steve Mnuchin, Mick Mulvaney, and scores of other appointees.

They know – or should know – that if they engage in mischief, we’ll be there to expose it.

Our investigations have forced the administration to hand over tens of thousands of pages of internal emails, memos, text messages, talking points, expense records, and other documents. The paper trail reveals deep problems at the agencies and a swamp that is anything but drained. We’ve revealed:

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ calendars showing that she prioritized charter and religious schools over public schools, and that she took more than 11 long weekends in her first six months in office.
  • Emails from the Department of Housing and Urban Development showing that Secretary Ben Carson put his son in charge of planning an official tour of Baltimore – an opportunity that the younger Carson exploited to connect his own business associates with senior officials at his father’s department.
  • Resumes of political appointees at multiple cabinet agencies, showing a disturbing pattern of unqualified, inexperienced, or politically-connected individuals working in senior jobs – including the 24-year-old who became one of our top trade policy officials at a time when the White House was imposing new tariffs and renegotiating NAFTA.
  • Travel records from the Department of the Interior showing that Secretary Ryan Zinke’s wife took an active role in several taxpayer-funded trips, including international travel on military aircraft.
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s calendars – which the agency had been trying to keep secret – showing that he was coordinating closely with lobbyists and executives from polluting industries to shape policy decisions.
  • Records proving that Attorney General Sessions lied about his Russian contacts on his security clearance application and sworn statements confirming that President Trump lied in his tweets about being “wiretapped” in Trump Tower by former President Obama.

These records, and hundreds more, are all posted on our website where the public and the press can use them to hold our leaders accountable for their actions – and we’re posting new documents every week.

All of this matters. Scandals do not have to be Watergate to make a difference. Ask the proverbial camel about its load of straw.

* * *

The urgency of our mission has only increased over the past twelve months – and our actions reflect it. Since the beginning of 2018 alone, we have filed over 150 FOIAs and 15 new lawsuits. We are not letting new transgressions slide even in this crazy news environment; Trump and his appointees will be held accountable for their full record of conduct. Our team has grown from five when we launched to more than a dozen today, and we are still growing.

We are also thinking ahead. In the coming weeks, stay tuned for the official launch of American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Project, an initiative to pursue documents the administration is hiding from Congress. For too long, the Trump administration has benefited from allies in Congress completely abdicating their responsibility to be a check and balance on the president. That failure has serious consequences for our country, and it can’t be allowed to continue.

Ultimately, the lesson of the past year is that oversight still matters. Amid the seemingly endless hail of scandals, personal conflicts, ethics violations, and outright incompetence that this administration delivers on a daily basis, it is more important than ever to call out corruption when and where we see it, to shine a light on misconduct, and to empower the American people to hold our government accountable.

That’s a project that will take all of us working together to uncover the facts and demand answers. If you’re able, please consider supporting our work with a donation, and you can always help by spreading the word about our investigations by following us on Twitter or Facebook or by sharing these posts.

Related Blog Posts

May 3, 2018

Court Rules in Favor of American Oversight in Trump Hotel Lawsuit

General Services Administration
Investigation Update
April 17, 2018

Lawsuit Seeks Scott Pruitt and Nino Perrotta Travel and Security Spending Records

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
April 6, 2018

New: EPA Documents Show Details of Pruitt Office Renovations

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
March 16, 2018

Video: Four Strategies for Holding Trump Accountable

General News
March 9, 2018

New FOIAs: Gun Control, Industry Influences, and Sanctuary Cities

General News
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
General News
March 6, 2018

Ethics Watchdog Sues HUD for Emails from Carson Family, Lynne Patton, Trump Organization

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
March 2, 2018

Investigation Update: Defund Trump

Investigation Update
February 27, 2018

American Oversight Sues HUD for Carson Office Renovation Records

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
February 21, 2018

American Oversight Calls for a HUD IG Investigation into Carson’s Leadership

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
February 16, 2018

Inside the Documents: Ben Carson Jr’s HUD Emails

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
February 5, 2018

Sessions, Comey, and Clinton: New FOIAs and Lawsuits Seek Answers

General News
February 1, 2018

New HUD Emails Show Secretary Ben Carson’s Son Taking Role at Agency

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
January 25, 2018

American Oversight Sues GSA Over Changes to MyPillow Contract

General Services Administration
General News
January 19, 2018

Inside the Documents: Ivanka’s Emails, Affirmative Action, and HUD Decisions

General News
December 7, 2017

FBI Records Call Into Question Sessions’ Claims About Security Clearance Instructions

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Investigation Update
November 22, 2017

More Evidence Flynn Concealed Payments

Department of Defense
Investigation Update
November 16, 2017

American Oversight Statement Regarding DOI Report on Zinke Travel

Department of the Interior
Investigation Update
November 8, 2017

American Oversight Statement on Carl Icahn Investigation

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
November 8, 2017

Statement on Interference in AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Department of Justice
General News
November 6, 2017

Over 50 New FOIA Requests Filed Last Week

General News
November 2, 2017

Ivanka Trump Continued Using Personal Account in White House

Department of the Treasury
Investigation Update
November 2, 2017

FOIA In Action: Helping Journalists Expose Questionable Behavior By Trump’s Appointees

Department of Education, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration
General News
October 27, 2017

American Oversight Calls for Investigation of Payments Made to Trump Organization

Investigation Update
October 24, 2017

Texts Show SBA Staff Tried to “Crop the Opulence” from Trump Hotel Event

Small Business Administration
Investigation Update
October 20, 2017

Congressional Russia Investigations Must be Transparent and Credible

General News
October 17, 2017

5 Questions for Attorney General Sessions

Department of Justice
October 10, 2017

New Lawsuit Seeks Answers about Ben Carson’s Management of HUD

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
October 6, 2017

American Oversight Calls for Investigation of Manhattan DA Vance’s Failure to Investigate Fraud at Trump SoHo Development

General News
October 5, 2017

Call for Ethics Investigation of Rep. Luke Messer

Office of Congressional Ethics
General News
October 5, 2017

Lawsuit Seeks Records of Lolita Zinke’s Travel, Role at Department of the Interior

Department of the Interior
Investigation Update
October 3, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Calendars Show Deep Industry Connections

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
September 18, 2017

Austin Evers Discusses Trump Inaugural Funds on MSNBC

General News
September 12, 2017

New Lawsuit: Did the FBI Really Advise Sessions to Omit Russian Contacts?

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Investigation Update
August 28, 2017

Statement on EPA IG Investigation of Pruitt Travel

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
July 27, 2017

Call for OSC Investigation of Pruitt Travel to Oklahoma

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
July 6, 2017

American Oversight Statement on Resignation of OGE Director Shaub

Office of Government Ethics
General News
June 28, 2017

Ethics Watchdog Sues GSA for Trump International Hotel Lease Records

General Services Administration
Investigation Update
June 23, 2017

Francisco & the Travel Ban: What We Learned from the DOJ Documents

Department of Justice
Investigation Update
June 7, 2017

Statement on the Release of Lobbyist Ethics Waivers

Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
May 31, 2017

Investigation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Apparent Presence at ExxonMobil Deal Signing

Department of State
Investigation Update
May 17, 2017

Watchdog Sues to Force Release of Ethics Waivers from Eight Trump Administration Agencies

Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
May 9, 2017

Watchdog Sues to Release Ethics Records of Solicitor General Nominee

Department of Justice
Investigation Update
May 5, 2017

Letter to Senator Grassley: Renew Leadership on Ethics and Transparency

Office of Government Ethics
Investigation Update
April 4, 2017

10 Questions about the Border Wall that Deserve Big, Beautiful Answers

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior
Investigation Update
March 30, 2017

Analysis: Anti-Lobbying Act & Dan Scavino

White House
General News
March 24, 2017

American Oversight Calls for Investigation of Mnuchin for “Batman” Promotion

Department of the Treasury, Office of Government Ethics
General News