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Washington, DC, June 12, 2018 — Yesterday, Democracy Forward and Food & Water Watch filed a brief opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to dismiss their case challenging the Jared Kushner-led Office of American Innovation (OAI) for violating federal transparency laws.
Since its formation in March 2017, OAI has reportedly played a major role in crafting Trump Administration policy on a range of issues, including infrastructure and government IT. Kushner has taken on this portfolio despite numerous potential conflicts of interest where these areas intersect with his private holdings. Various potential conflicts involving OAI’s staff were extensively documented in a report from Democracy Forward in January. Despite numerous ethical concerns, and despite the fact that OAI’s responsibilities have been described as “almost comically broad,” the office is refusing to obey laws requiring public release of documents.
This lawsuit follows months of stonewalling by the Administration, which has refused to open OAI’s activities to public view.
“The Trump Administration is clearly trying to shield whatever OAI is doing from public scrutiny,” said Anne Harkavy, Executive Director of Democracy Forward. “That kind of bunker mentality raises a lot of questions that deserve answers, like whether Jared Kushner and his friends stand to benefit — at the public’s expense — from their work at OAI.”
“This case seeks to shine a light on Jared Kushner’s improper efforts to use his public office for personal profit,” stated FWW Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Turning our water and sanitation systems over to his wealthy developer friends will only mean worsening services and higher bills for struggling Americans.”
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.