WASHINGTON — Empower Oversight has filed an opposition to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) motion to strike VA documents that Empower Oversight obtained—from another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requestor and a confidential whistleblower involved in a lawsuit against the VA—and provided to the court. In support of its opposition, Empower Oversight submitted a declaration to the court explaining how and when it obtained the documents it provided to the court. In response to Empower Oversight’s FOIA requests, VA had failed to produce one of the documents in an unredacted format and had withheld the other in its entirety.
The filing follows a notification to the court from Empower Oversight at the end of last month that the group possessed documents demonstrating the VA’s failure to provide full transparency in response to an August 2021 FOIA request. The VA’s searches for responsive documents were inadequate in locating records demonstrating that VA leadership knew of and failed meaningfully to address allegations of the conflicts of interest involving a senior VA official. The VA then sought to hide these documents from public view by filing a motion to strike the documents from the record after Empower Oversight brought them to the court’s attention.
“The VA has not disputed the authenticity of these documents, but it nonetheless is seeking to hide them from public view. The government’s effort is a waste of taxpayer resources in a futile effort to oppose transparency. The toothpaste is out of the tube. The VA cannot and should not be able to hide information expressly sought in a congressional oversight request regarding its failures to police conflicts of interest among its senior officials,” said Jason Foster, Founder and 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.