February 5, 2018
Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, CREW requests:
- Copies of any Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance filed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and submitted to the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) from February 7, 2017, to the present.
- Copies of all documents from February 7, 2017 to the present that evidence or pertain to actions taken by Secretary DeVos to comply with her January 19, 2017 ethics agreement, which the Department of Education submitted to OGE.
- Copies of all communications from February 7, 2017 to the present between the Department of Education and OGE concerning Secretary DeVos’s compliance with her ethics agreement.
- Copies of all documents from February 7, 2017, to the present that evidence or pertain to any transfer of assets by Secretary DeVos to a family trust and/or any actions she took to make a gift of assets in order to comply with divestiture requirements.
- Copies of all documents from February 7, 2017 to the present that reflect or pertain to Secretary DeVos’s recusal (i) from participation in particular matters that would affect the financial interests of Neurocore; (ii) from particular matters involving ADHD treatments; and (iii) from particular matters involving the Every Student Succeeds Act. This request includes, but is not limited to, documents reflecting implementation of any recusal by Secretary DeVos on these matters and ethics advice Secretary DeVos sought and/or received on these matters.
- Documents from February 7, 2017 to the present reflecting or pertaining to any ethics advice Secretary DeVos sought and/or received to purchase additional shares of Neurocore.
On May 11, 2017, OGE implemented a new requirement that all Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees whose financial disclosure reports OGE reviews in connection with the nomination process file a Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance. As a Senate-confirmed appointee, Secretary DeVos was subject to this requirement, yet OGE’s website contains no Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance for her. This omission is particularly troubling given the extensive assets she represented in her ethics agreement would be divested as a condition of her appointment and confirmation.
Further, in her ethics agreement Ms. DeVos continued to hold financial interests in Neurocore, LLC, company behind a group of brain performance centers that offer a highly controversial treatment for children with ADHD, as well as anxiety and depression. Secretary DeVos and her husband reportedly are the chief investors in Neurocore and hold a stake in the company valued at between $5 and $25 million. Neurocore’s investors have accused the company of engaging in misleading advertising by claiming on its website it can help treat illnesses without medication.
Given the significant financial interest Secretary DeVos continues to hold in Neurocore, and the absence of any evidence she has divested of approximately 66 assets from which she promised to divest as a condition of her appointment and confirmation, the requested records would shed light on the extent to which Secretary DeVos has complied with all applicable ethics requirements concerning her financial holdings. The requested records would reveal whether and to what extent she has followed the proper procedures for divestment and has adequately documented that compliance.