House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records

House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records
© Greg Nash

The House Oversight and Reform Committee demanded Monday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosMueller investigation witness pleads guilty to child sex crime charges Proposed changes to Title IX will not solve the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses US officials say Erik Prince may have violated Venezuela sanctions: report MORE turn over all emails from her personal account related to official government business.

The request comes as the panel expands its investigation into whether the Department of Education is in compliance with the Federal Records Act.

In a letter sent to DeVos on Monday, committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) explained he was expanding the investigation to include the emails following “disturbing new revelations” that DeVos had “violated federal law” and withheld information from the committee in the course of its investigation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cummings’s concerns centered on findings from a report published by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in May, which found that DeVos used a personal email account to conduct some official business and did not forward these emails to her official account as required by law. 

The report noted that the OIG “found only a limited number of emails sent to or from her private accounts in the Department email system,” but noted these emails were preserved only in the accounts of Education Department employees they were sent to, not in DeVos’s official account. 

The report also noted that 78 percent of political officials surveyed by the OIG at the Department of Education admitted to using their personal emails to conduct some official business.

Department of Education Press Secretary Liz Hill pushed back against the expansion of the investigation, telling The Hill that “this is nothing more than political grandstanding. The IG has already done a thorough report on this issue. There is nothing to see here.”

Cummings gave DeVos until July 29 to respond to multiple previous letters sent by the committee on the subject of these emails and to questions around whether she and any noncareer Education Department official used personal email accounts, text messages, or encrypted software to conduct business. 

Furthermore, Cummings asked that DeVos produce copies of all messages she and any noncareer Education Department employee sent or received from a nongovernment email or other electronic messaging account in regards to official business during her tenure as secretary. 

The investigation into the Education Department is part of a larger probe into the email practices of 55 federal agencies that was launched in 2017 by Cummings and former Oversight committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah).

Cummings and other committee leaders repeatedly sent letters over the past two years to the Education Department asking for information on whether DeVos or any noncareer officials used personal emails for conducting business.

Updated at 5:46 p.m.