A little more than a month after MuckRock launched The Secret Scandals of the Trump Administration project, we’ve submitted dozens of FOIA requests, and received a handful of excellent tips from our readers. A number of these tips have been especially helpful: we’ve even heard from former government employees with first-hand knowledge of potential scandals in some government agencies.
Some of the tips lead directly to a number of requests being filed, and we’d like to encourage anyone else with any ideas to keep sending those suggestions in.
One suggestion - that we explore staffing shortages across multiple government agencies - resulted in over a dozen requests being sent out.
Other agencies/topics that were suggested that we look into included:
Many of the FOIA requests that we’ve sent out are still in processing, and we’re hoping to hear back from them shortly. While the government shutdown is no doubt impacting the project, it inspired us to send out a number of requests inquiring about how the various agencies impacted by the shutdown are spinning the situation with the media.
One request sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on records for health and safety complaints submitted over a seven month period resulted in the agency locating “4800 files for your request on severe injury or death reports and approximately 30,000 files for safety and health complaints received during the time period you specified.”
In response, I spoke with FOIA Coordinator at OSHA for over an hour discussing ways to narrow the requests. As is often the case, that paid off, so OSHA should be able to fulfill the request with a relatively quick turn around. I received similar pushback regarding my requests to the the Consumer Product Safety Commision, and I will be contacting their FOIA office to discuss ways to narrow my requests, as well.
However, one request to CPSC already paid off - in response to my request for a copy of the database on consumer product-related injuries, I was directed to where I could find the database online.
FOIA can be a long process, but persistence tends to pay off. This project is just getting started and we’ll be sending out many more requests in an attempt to get as much information about the lesser known scandals of the Trump administration.
Please continue sending in any tips you have to help make this project as strong as possible.
Image by Joyce N. Boghosian via White House Flickr