Press Release
May 16, 2023

WASHINGTON — Empower Oversight filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC – pdf) requesting communications about its referral of evidence to the Inspector General (IG), pointing to ethical violations and related litigation.

The FOIA request seeks records of communications about the group’s May 2022 referral to the SEC’s Office of Inspector General (SEC OIG), its FOIA litigation with the SEC, and the agency’s litigation selectively targeting one cryptocurrency, XRP, for enforcement. 

The new FOIA request comes in the wake of Empower Oversight filing a complaint against the SEC last week in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to compel the SEC to comply with a December 2022 FOIA request regarding conflicts of interest and selective enforcement by former high-level officials regarding cryptocurrencies.

In the May 2022 referral, Empower Oversight provided to the SEC OIG evidence that raised serious questions about the ability of the SEC to properly manage and mitigate conflicts of interest and threatened to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the SEC. Thus, the willingness and ability of the OIG to act as a genuinely independent watchdog, and concerns about the SEC’s handling of possible ethics violations by its officials as a whole, are subjects of public concern. 

“Americans have an interest in learning how the SEC OIG handled this referral and how the SEC Ethics Office dealt with the conflicts outlined. The law requires transparency from the SEC and other agencies to ensure accountability. The evidence of SEC’s bad faith and history of resisting its legal obligations to comply with our previous requests raises reasonable suspicions that demand more sunlight and public scrutiny,” said Tristan Leavitt, President of Empower Oversight.

If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to assist Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.