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Lankford, Hawley Call For DHS to Release Documents on Disinformation Governance Board

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) along with Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) led a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting the immediate release of all documents related to the agency’s recently-shelved Disinformation Governance Board. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee members Rick Scott (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) also joined the letter.

Under federal law (5 U.S.C. § 2954), the Department is required provide information and documents to the Homeland Security Committee when five members request it.

“We write to request immediate access to all records and communications related to the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board. You promised under oath to make these records available, but to date, our offices still have not received any further information,” the Senators wrote. 

They continued, “we were pleased to read reports that you have decided to shut down the board in response to the concerns we raised. But it is important that this mistake is not repeated. We are therefore demanding transparency into the Department’s decision-making process so that we can learn why the Department ever thought creating a disinformation board would be a good idea.”

Lankford has pushed to ensure that no funding for the Board is included in the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill. Lankford also introduced stand-alone legislation to stop federal funds from being used to establish a DHS Disinformation Governance Board and grilled DHS Secretary Mayorkas at a Homeland Security hearing about the questionable scope and nature of the Board’s creation. Following the hearing, DHS announced the resignation of the Board’s executive director and has paused all actions until an internal review is complete.  

You can read the full letter HERE and below.

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We write to request immediate access to all records and communications related to the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board. You promised under oath to make these records available, but to date, our offices still have not received any further information. We were pleased to read reports that you have decided to shut down the board in response to the concerns we raised. But it is important that this mistake is not repeated. We are therefore demanding transparency into Department’s decision making process so that we can learn why the Department ever thought creating a disinformation board would be a good idea.

On May 4, 2022, you testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about the creation of this new board and accepted sole responsibility for appointing Nina Jankowicz as its Executive Director. Surprisingly, you testified that you were not aware of her long history of partisan public statements.

You also testified under oath that you would produce to the Committee all records related to the Board, including its formation and appointment of personnel. You testified, “I owe openness and transparency with this Committee, and we will produce the documents that you have requested, unless there’s a legal prohibition from us doing so.”

Our offices still have not received any of these documents. We are therefore writing to demand immediate access to all records and communications related to the Government Disinformation Board.

Under 5 U.S.C. § 2954, “An Executive agency, on request of … the [Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee], or any five members thereof, shall submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee.” Pursuant to this authority, and so that the Congress can consider remedial legislation, please immediately produce the following records:

  1. All records related to the Department’s Government Disinformation Board, including but not limited to:
    1. written or recorded communications concerning the formation of the Board;
    2. the agenda or minutes from any meeting at which the Board’s formation was discussed;
    3. any legal review to determine whether the activities of the Board would be authorized by the Constitution of the United States;
    4. any communications or records about the individuals who would be recruited to serve on the Board;
    5. any communications concerning the appointment of an executive director for the Board; and
    6. any communications with the White House about the formation of the Board or appointment of officials to serve on the Board.
  1. For any documents that are responsive to this request but withheld from the Committee, please identify the name of each document, the date of its creation, the custodian, a summary of its contents, and the basis for withholding the record from the Committee.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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