Cummings, Connolly Issue Statements on DHS IG Report Showing Trump Administration Fails to Protect Whistleblowers
Washington, D.C. (August 14, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, issued statements on a new report from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General on non-disclosure forms and settlement agreements.
“This new report shows a widespread failure by the Department of Homeland Security to comply with whistleblower protection laws by ensuring that all employees and contractors who sign nondisclosure agreements have the right, under the law, to disclose waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress or Inspectors General,” said Cummings. “Oversight Committee Democrats have been seeking documents about the Trump Administration’s abuse of nondisclosure agreements since last year, but Chairman Gowdy has refused to issue a subpoena. In light of this new report, I call on Chairman Gowdy to either issue a subpoena or let the Committee take a vote. These laws are in our Committee’s jurisdiction, and we have a responsibility to hold every agency accountable.”
“This report is deeply troubling and demonstrates once again that the Trump administration has taken actions that undercut whistleblower protections,” said Connolly. “Congressional oversight shouldn’t be partisan, and I urge Chairman Gowdy to immediately investigate these findings.”
The DHS IG report marks the second time this year that an independent IG has found that the Trump Administration is failing to comply with whistleblower protection laws. In March, the GSA Inspector General found that GSA’s policies inhibited whistleblowers from communicating their concerns to Congress.
On January 26, 2017, Ranking Member Cummings and Ranking Member Frank Pallone sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn calling on the White House to rescind all policies on employee communications that violate whistleblower laws and calling on President Trump to issue a statement making clear to employees that they have the right to communicate with Congress and that his Administration will not silence or retaliate against whistleblowers.
In February 2017, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows and Ranking Member Gerald Connolly sent a bipartisan request to DHS, along with fifteen other agencies, seeking documents relating to the Trump Administration’s widespread use of non-disclosure agreements, but DHS failed to produce documents or provide responsive information.
On April 24, 2018, Ranking Member Cummings and Ranking Member Connolly sent a letter to Chairman Gowdy asking him to issue a subpoena to compel DHS to provide the Committee with these documents.
On May 21, 2018, Ranking Member Cummings sent Chairman Gowdy a letter requesting that he allow the Committee to debate and vote on a motion to subpoena the documents from DHS at a business meeting scheduled for May 23, 2018. He refused.
On May 23, 2018, Republicans blocked a Democratic motion to subpoena DHS for these documents.