Two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, and we’re all familiar with high-profile policies that dominate headlines - the Muslim ban, the increasing detention of immigrants, the militarization of the border, rollback of protections for the LGBTQ+ community, the ongoing effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act … the list goes on.
Yet there many less known scandals that are taking place away from the front pages. Under the Trump Administration, government agencies are working to weaken their own power to protect workers and consumers alike. These policies will bring huge benefits to industry interests, but will be a disaster for average Americans.
This is where MuckRock comes in. We’re excited to announce that MuckRock is relaunching our Trump-focused FOIA project, rebranding it as “The Secret Scandals of the Trump Administration,” where we’ll focus on the administration’s lesser known, but no less dangerous actions, which all too often escape media scrutiny.
And true to the spirit of MuckRock, we’re asking our readers to help.
If there’s a government agency you’d like to help us dig into, or if you’ve seen a report that needs a deeper investigation, let us know via the Assignments tool and we’ll look into it!
Here are some examples of some of the places we’d like to start digging:
Consumer Product Safety Commission
The CPSC is a government agencies responsible for protecting American children from flammable pajamas, exploding batteries, and other dangerous products.
The chairwoman of the CPSP, Ann Marie Buerkle, has openly talked about wanting to work in coordination with industry, and we’re seeing the effect of that. In November, Heidi Vogt reported that the agency has failed to take significant action following the deaths of 30 infants related to an inclined baby sleeper. According to the CPSP, 250,000 children end up in the emergency room every year due to toy related injuries, but CPSP issued recalls of children’s products dropped by 35% last year, according to the advocacy organization Kids in Danger.
We’ll look into which products are receiving the most complaints, which are causing the most injuries, how is the agency responding, and with whom has Buerkle been meeting.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The CFPB was formed by the Obama Administration following the 2008-2009 financial crisis to prevent another crash; however, as Zack Friedman reported, the Trump administration is gutting funding to it. During the first four and a half months of Trump’s presidency, the agency didn’t take action against even one bank, credit-card company, student loan company, or debt collector. In September, the head of the CFPB’s student loan watchdog resigned by writing an incensed letter, stating:
“The Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.”
We’ll look into which companies are receiving the most complaints, what the agency’s response to those claims is, and who Mick Mulvaney, the head of the agency has been meeting with.
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration
OSHA, within the Department of Labor, has cut its potential regulatory actions by more than half in 2017, and as John Bowden reported, it has reduced Obama-era injury report requirements for large companies. Under Trump, OSHA has also, decreased the number of OSHA safety inspectors, as Judy Khimm reported, and has shut down expert committees advising the Department, according to Rebecca Moss.
We’ll be looking into which companies are receiving a large number of complaints, how the agency is responding, and who the Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has been meeting with.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
The OCC is an agency within the Treasury that is tasked with regulating the nation’s largest banks, but as Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg have reported, the agency is allowing Wall Street to rip off consumers with high-interest, payday loans, it has reduced punishments for banks that discriminate against poor and minorities and has attempted to make it harder for consumers to sue banks.
We’ll be looking into which banks have been cited for discrimination, or have had complaints filed about them and what the agency’s response has been.
The project will also investigate …
- The housing and care that immigrant children and families are getting in Trump’s border camps, which is the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services.
- We’ll examine the Food and Drug Administration, an agency within HHS, which as reported by Beth Mole, has worked to undercut its own regulatory power by allowing untested and risky drugs to be rushed to the market.
- The Trump administration has mandated that every department create a deregulation task force, so we’ll dig into what’s going on with that.
- We’ll even take some time to dive into the latest escapades of Ryan Zinke at the Department of the Interior, and the many misadventures of Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education.
Plus, we’ll revisit MuckRock’s growing collection of government talking points to see how the Trump administration is trying to run cover for its endless scandals.
That’s just a bit of what we hope to dig into through this FOIA project - let us know what you’d like us to cover via the form below!
Image by Joyce N. Boghosian via White House Flickr