Watchdog group sues Biden agency for records as lawmaker calls its voter work ‘a slap in the face’

FIRST ON FOX: One week after Congress subpoenaed officials from the Small Business Administration regarding efforts to funnel resources to help register swing state voters, a top government watchdog group sued the agency for allegedly stonewalling its own public records requests on the matter.On Friday, The Oversight Project executive director Mike Howell and the Heritage Foundation sued the SBA, claiming the agency failed to comply with legal public records requests regarding the same “Memorandum of Understanding” entered into by the SBA and the Michigan Department of State.The Oversight Project, an initiative of the Heritage Foundation launched in 2022, seeks to engage in “aggressive oversight” of the federal government to investigate the implementation of so-called “radical leftist” policies and “destructive efforts” while ensuring accountability across the board.KEY BIDEN AGENCY SLAPPED WITH HISTORIC SUBPOENAS OVER ‘IMPROPER’ SWING-STATE VOTER REGISTRATION PUSHThe lawsuit alleged the SBA did not provide documents sought under an April 23 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to the memo, which included internal communications with the search terms “register,” “vote,” “voter” and “ballot.”In the filing, Howell’s team called the request a “matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exists possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence.”In an interview with Fox News Digital, Oversight Project chief counsel Kyle Brosnan echoed Howell’s sentiment, saying there is public interest in analyzing in-person voter registration events the memo helped resource – as well as communications between Michigan Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office and the SBA.In March, the SBA announced its “first-ever” voter registration agreement with the Michigan agency. On May 7, the House Committee on Small Business issued a rare subpoena for SBA aides after what the panel claimed was in part a failure to forward documents relating to a program “diverting [agency] resources away from assisting Main Street” toward partisan ends.President Biden’s executive order 14019, on “Promoting Access to Voting,” was the keystone of the coordination, which led to concerns the agency was being used to register voters in a partisan manner in a key swing state.When asked if the lawsuit was a direct response to the subpoena brought by House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams, R-Texas, Brosnan said there is overlap in their requests on both the FOIA front and an endeavor to conduct oversight of federal resources that may be being used in a controversial manner.”Based on what I’ve seen in public reporting, the Small Business Administration has not complied with Congress’ document requests. And, the committee subpoenaed these two SBA officials for depositions later this month after they did not appear for voluntary transcribed interviews,” he said.BIDEN ADMIN ACCUSED OF USING TAXPAYER FUNDS TO HELP HIS OWN CAMPAIGN WITH STUDENT VOTER REGISTRATION SCHEME”It’s curious that the Small Business Administration has entered an agreement with the Michigan secretary of state in this context, with the election this year.”When asked earlier this week about the lawsuit somewhat mirroring what he has sought, Williams told Fox News Digital his committee has “been working hard to hold the SBA accountable for improperly involving themselves in federal elections.””The SBA’s mission of helping Main Street grow and thrive is simple, yet extremely important to our country. Unfortunately, they seem to be dedicating energy to serve as President Biden’s campaign arm to register Democrat voters in Michigan.”Williams called such behavior a “slap in the face” to struggling small business owners who rely on the SBA.In a March announcement for the voter registration agreement between Michigan and the SBA, agency administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said “protecting and strengthening our democracy is critical to our economic success and a core goal of the Biden-Harris administration,” and that connecting Michiganders to voter registration information will help small business owners exercise their voting rights.Brosnan referenced a similar September inter-agency agreement announced by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Michigan to designate two Detroit and one Saginaw VA property as voter registration sites, while alluding to the fact that Michigan’s largest city is heavily Democratic, and Saginaw sits in a nearly-even swing district represented by a Democrat in Congress.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPWhen reached for comment on the lawsuit, the top Democrat on Williams’ panel, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., expressed dismay at the subpoenas her committee recently issued, telling Fox News Digital in a statement that her committee has otherwise “prided itself in bipartisan cooperation to help American entrepreneurs.””Unfortunately, with [these] subpoenas, Republicans have rejected these principles to pursue a partisan inquiry,” Velazquez said.A message left for Benson’s office was not returned by press time. Reached by phone, the SBA said it does not comment on ongoing legal matters.Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.
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