Who’s Meeting with Secretary Mayorkas? DHS Doesn’t Want You to Know
- May 5, 2022
PPT goes to court to bring transparency to Mayorkas’s meetings, calendar records
Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over a request for records involving Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s calendars and meetings.
DHS was one of a dozen agencies PPT awarded an “F” grade earlier this year for providing absolutely no public calendar information for its principal leader, despite a page on its website labeled “annual calendars for the current and past Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” While the page claims to provide calendars for “current and past Secretaries” it does not contain a single calendar for Secretary Mayorkas, who was confirmed in February of 2021. In fact, the most recent Secretary’s calendar posted on the DHS website is for early 2019 for former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. During the research for its calendar report, PPT submitted FOIA requests for meeting, calendar, and related records for principals to many of the agencies surveyed.
Secretary Mayorkas has been at the center of a number of the most controversial issues of the current administration. The handling of the Southern Border and attempts to combat so-called “disinformation” have produced firestorms from across the political spectrum. The contentiousness of these issues only serves to underscore the importance of the American public obtaining access to information about the individuals and groups with whom the Secretary is meeting, of learning who is attempting to influence the decisions of one of the most powerful figures in the administration. DHS’s actions with respect to the request are in stark contrast to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s FOIA Guidelines, which urge agencies to “proactively disclose certain categories of records, including previously released records that have been requested three or more times or that ‘have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests.’”
“The Biden Administration promised to be the most transparent in history, but that attitude has not made its way to the agency right in the middle of some of the biggest controversies,” stated Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “DHS refuses to reveal who is meeting with and might be influencing its leader in defiance of, not only Protect the Public’s Trust’s FOIA request, but the recommendations of the Attorney General. The American public’s trust in its government continues to plummet and, with actions such as these, it really is not difficult to see why.”