July 08, 2020

Hirono and Colleagues to Secretary Ross: Release IG Report on “Sharpiegate”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to demand he complete the necessary steps to make public Commerce Department Inspector General (IG) Peggy Gustafson’s report into the politicization of science during Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.

On June 26, the IG’s office released a summary memo of their investigation’s findings, noting they planned to post the full report on Monday, June 29. On July 1, they subsequently released the text of a memo from IG Gustafson to Secretary Ross, noting that their investigation had been completed but that the Commerce Department was refusing to cooperate in finalizing the report for release to the public. 

“We request that you immediately work with IG Gustafson to complete the process of identifying specific privileges and providing privilege markings to the report in time to meet the July 9, 2020 deadline, and release the full report as negotiated prior to commencement of the investigation,” the Senators wrote to Secretary Ross.

Senator Hirono issued a statement last week calling for the Department of Commerce to finalize IG Gustafson’s report. In September 2019, Senator Hirono led 13 of her Senate Democratic colleagues to request the IG’s investigation into “Sharpiegate.” 

The full letter can be found here or below:

Secretary Ross: 

On September 10, 2019, we sent a letter requesting that Department of Commerce Inspector General (IG) Peggy Gustafson conduct a thorough investigation into the events surrounding President Trump’s September 1, 2019 tweet about Hurricane Dorian and the events that followed. 

On June 26, 2020, the IG’s office released a summary memo of their findings, indicating that the investigation was successfully conducted and a full report would be publicly posted on their website on Monday, June 29, 2020. Since that time, according to a July 1, 2020 memo from IG Gustafson, Department of Commerce officials have refused to continue cooperating in the process of finalizing the report for public consumption and are now preventing the IG’s Office from releasing the report.

We request that you immediately work with IG Gustafson to complete the process of identifying specific privileges and providing privilege markings to the report in time to meet the July 9, 2020 deadline, and release the full report as negotiated prior to commencement of the investigation.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

Sincerely,

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