As the House Prepares to Consider Hensarling’s Bill Gutting Wall Street Reform, the Powerful Financial Services Chairman Is Pushing the Treasury Department to Skirt Open Records Laws by Withholding Relevant Correspondence between Treasury and His Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This afternoon, BuzzFeed News reported that House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last month pushing Mnuchin to decline all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for correspondence between his powerful committee and the Treasury Department. The news comes just one day after Hensarling’s committee passed his deceptively titled “Financial CHOICE Act” which would gut protections for working families from Wall Street fraud and recklessness.
“Chairman Hensarling’s paranoid and erratic instruction to block open records requests is a flagrant assault on government transparency. It raises serious questions about the ethical standards he sets for himself and those working for him on the Financial Services Committee,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “Chairman Hensarling’s work to sabotage legitimate open records requests is unprecedented even for a member of Congress who has taken millions of dollars from the financial industry while pushing legislation to lift protections for working families from Wall Street fraud and recklessness. There must be something in these communications that he doesn’t want the public to see. What is he hiding?”
In a report released last summer, Allied Progress detailed how the House Financial Services Committee has become a revolving door between Hensarling’s committee and the financial industry, and how key members of his committee staff have invested in and taken junkets from the very industry they’re paid to oversee.
According to the report, at least fourteen current or past Hensarling committee staffers either came from the financial industry to his committee, or left his committee to begin working in the financial industry. In addition, at least four committee staffers reported or disclosed personal investments in the financial industry. The report also details the nearly $15,000 in industry-funded junkets that committee staff have enjoyed while working in Congress.
Ironically enough, just three weeks after pushing Mnuchin to shield their communications from FOIA open records requests, Rep. Hensarling voted to force two companies under government conservatorship to abide by most FOIA open records requirements.
To speak with Karl Frisch about Rep. Hensarling’s ethically questionable request, please contact Mike Czin at 202-286-7654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Allied Progress is a nationwide, progressive advocacy organization that uses hard-hitting research and creative campaigns to hold Wall Street and powerful special interests accountable. Since launching in 2015, the organization has led high-profile campaigns on several issues including reforming the payday lending industry and exposing the those working to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).