Watchdog Investigates Possible Illegal Lobbying at DOT

Records request aims to determine if officials violated anti-lobbying laws

Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust began an investigation into official communications by the Department of Transportation that may have violated federal laws. In order to protect taxpayers and the interests of the American public, Congress has enacted laws banning certain lobbying activities by federal agencies and officials.
 
The probe by Protect the Public’s Trust, begun via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, revolves around a social media post from an official U.S. Department of Transportation account that endorses the Build Back Better Act. This proposed legislation, which has been intensely debated for months, passed the House of Representatives less than two weeks ago and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Press reports indicate Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed his intention to hold a vote on the proposal before Christmas. Because of the Majority Leader’s urgency for a vote on the bill, PPT is requesting that DOT expedite the processing of our FOIA request. Individuals involved in approving and/or publishing the meme may have acted in violation of the law.

“The prohibitions against lobbying on pending legislation by Executive Branch agencies and officials exist to protect the American public from having their hard-earned tax dollars spent on propaganda,” declared Protect the Public’s Trust Director, Michael Chamberlain. “When DOT uses a government social media account with more than a quarter-million followers to promote a controversial bill, possibly in violation of the law, the public deserves to know whether the actions were consistent with the law and who authorized the activity. Protect the Public’s Trust will investigate this episode and shed light on conduct that may be prohibited under the law.”

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