Cummings and Connolly Ask Gowdy to Subpoena Documents on HHS Gag Order Against Whistleblowers
Cummings and Connolly Ask
Gowdy to Subpoena Documents on
HHS Gag Order Against Whistleblowers
Washington, D.C. (Jan. 29, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent a letter requesting that Chairman Trey Gowdy issue a subpoena to compel the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce all documents requested as part of the Committee’s investigation into compliance with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and the protection of the right of federal employees to communicate with Congress.
“The protection of whistleblowers and the right of federal employees to communicate with Congress have been longstanding bipartisan priorities of this Committee,” the Ranking Members wrote.
After it was widely reported that the Trump Administration issued restrictions at multiple agencies on employee communications, including in some instances communications with Congress, Cummings wrote a letter on January 26, 2017, along with Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., to White House Counsel Don McGahn. Noting that these directives “appear to violate a host of federal laws,” they urged the Trump Administration to “immediately rescind all policies on employee communications that do not comply with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and other federal statutes.” They never received a response.
On February 7, 2017, Connolly and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows sent a letter seeking documents relating to HHS’s use of nondisclosure agreements after news reports that HHS issued a gag order that included no exceptions for communicating with Congress.
On May 4, 2017, then-Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Senator Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, sent a letter seeking documents relating to an internal HHS memorandum they described as “potentially illegal and unconstitutional” and likely to “chill protected disclosures of waste, fraud, and abuse.” The Committee has not received documents in response to this request.
In today’s letter, Cummings and Connolly asked Gowdy to issue a subpoena to compel HHS to produce all documents responsive to the requests of February 7, 2017, and May 4, 2017, or in the alternative, to allow Committee Members to debate and vote on a motion for the Committee to issue the subpoena.
Click here to read today’s letter.