FOIA Update
November 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Veterans Administration (VA) provided more than 1,200 pages to Empower Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding conflicts of interest and potential insider trading. The documents confirm the Department is stonewalling congressional oversight requests.

Based on whistleblower disclosures, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote to the VA on April 2, 2021, and July 20, 2021, asking several questions about conflicts of interest and potential insider trading enabled by the VA. Although the documents include what appears to be a complete response to Senator Grassley drafted more than six months ago—the VA has still failed to transmit the response to the Senator. The copy provided to Empower Oversight through FOIA has all the substantive responses to the Senator’s questions redacted.

Additionally, newly produced internal VA emails appear to show the VA struggling to answer a key policy question posed by Senator Grassley about how the agency protects retail investors from selective leaks of material non-public information. In one email, a VA employee writes, “we have never seen anything like this before.” The answer arrived at after exchanges between various subject matter experts is fully redacted from the documents.

A previously uncovered set of VA documents showed senior VA officials smearing and taking credit for firing a whistleblower who raised similar issues to those in Senator Grassley’s letters. On September 21, Empower Oversight published a detailed report on the controversy that led to its FOIA requests.

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