RELEASE: Cicilline, Cummings, Conyers, Connolly Request Documents about President Trump’s Regulatory Task Forces’ Secret Meetings and Conflicts of Interest

Monday, August 7, 2017

Washington, D.C. (August 7, 2017)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Gerry Connolly, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and David Cicilline, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Neomi Rao expressing grave concerns about the secrecy of the Regulatory Reform Task Forces and requesting information about the nature of their meetings.

“We write to express our alarm concerning the lack of transparency, accountability, and independence of the Regulatory Reform Task Forces,” the Members wrote. “We believe that the interests of the American public must be paramount when reviewing the worthiness of regulations. Therefore, these Task Forces must have an effective and transparent guard against conflicts of interest, especially those in which industry lobbyists seek to overturn environmental and health protections for financial gain. It appears that the current Task Forces are already failing on this front, and instead are actively hiding their members and their meetings from public view.”

The Democrats explained that press reports indicate these Task Forces appear to have operated in private without public input, and some agencies have refused to release basic information about their activity or maintain a record of their meetings as required by the Federal Records Act.

“Withholding the names and titles of Task Force participants may also violate the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” the Members wrote. “Simply put, it is unacceptable for federal agencies to operate in such a clandestine and unaccountable manner especially when the result could be the undoing of critical public health and safety protections.”

The Members also expressed concern that several employees stand to profit from their work on the Task Force. For example, the wife of one Task Force member at the Environmental Protection Agency is the top lobbyist for a large oil company.

“Rather than ‘drain the swamp,’ these conflicts threaten to influence the outcome of the review process against hardworking Americans and in favor of regulated industries and agency staff,” the Members wrote.

The Members requested documents and information, including a description of every Task Force created pursuant to the executive order, a list of the names and titles of every member of each Task Force, and communications related to non-governmental entities participating in Task Force meetings.

Click here to read today’s letter. 

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