Committee Demands Documents Withheld by Secretary DeVos for More than Two Years in Bipartisan Personal Email Investigation

Jul 15, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, expanding its Federal Records Act investigation and seeking all records relating to government work from her personal email accounts after a new Inspector General report revealed she violated the law.

“New information has now come to light indicating that you and other Department officials violated the Department’s prohibition on using personal email accounts to conduct official business, violated the requirement in the Federal Records Act to forward these emails to your official account within 20 days, and violated the requirement in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to produce relevant records in response to public requests,” Cummings wrote.  “This new information also indicates that you withheld from the Committee information it has been seeking on a bipartisan basis over the past two years.”

The Committee’s investigation into the use of personal email for official business has been ongoing for more than two years under three different Republican and Democratic Chairmen.

Rep. Cummings  joined former Chairmen Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy in requesting documents from the Department of Education.  In both instances, the Department refused to provide any of the requested information about employees who used personal email or text accounts for official business.  Instead, the Department only described its policy prohibiting the use of personal accounts for official business.

On December 19, 2018, after Rep. Cummings was selected as Chairman, he renewed the Committee’s previous bipartisan requests.  The Department responded three months later, again failing to identify any employees who used personal email or text accounts to conduct official business and again reiterating the Department’s prohibition of this activity.

On May 16, 2019, the Inspector General of the Department of Education issued a report revealing that DeVos used a personal email account to conduct official business and that she did not forward these emails to her official account as required by federal law.  The Inspector General also found that, in response to a FOIA request, responsive emails from Secretary DeVos’ personal account were not provided to the requester.

Click here to read today’s letter to Secretary DeVos.

116th Congress