Transmitted: October 6, 2021
To: Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency
Re: Appeal of Denial of FOIA Requests into Investigation of FHFA-OIG Abuse Allegations
Empower Oversight filed an appeal of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s (CIGIE) denials of its FOIA requests concerning unconscionable delays of an investigation of abuse allegations among the leadership at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG).
Laura Wertheimer, the former Inspector General for the FHFA, was the subject of multiple whistleblower-driven investigations beginning in 2015. CIGIE, a panel of fellow inspectors general, eventually unearthed a disturbing pattern of Wertheimer abusing her authority and other misconduct, but apparently did not report its findings to the President until April 2021. Empower Oversight organized a coalition letter urging President Biden to nominate a caretaker Inspector General from outside the agency until a permanent replacement could be confirmed, which he did.
The purpose of Empower Oversight’s FOIA requests is to obtain documents that would explain why three investigation into allegations of multiple abuses dragged on for more than 5 years, and CIGIE’s dragged on for about three years longer than the 150-day target in its authorizing legislation. These delays undermine the public’s confidence in inspectors general to police misconduct and whistleblower retaliation within their own ranks.
In its criticism of the FHFA-OIG, the CIGIE described how its leadership had a disdain for independent oversight. But, in denying Empower Oversight’s FOIA request, the CIGIE undermines that argument by improperly resisting transparency through FOIA of its own operations. This calls into question the CIGIE’s commitment to accountability for itself as well as others.
CIGIE must reverse its initial denials of the initial FOIA requests and produce documents because its excuses, as outlined in the appeal, will not withstand legal scrutiny.
If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to assist Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.