House committee demands Biden agency staff reveal travel history amid electioneering claims

May 16, 2024 | Latest News | 0 comments

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EXCLUSIVE: Republican leaders in the House and Senate sent a joint letter Thursday morning to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) demanding travel schedules, official calendars and other documents from the cabinet agency amid allegations it is involved in partisan voter registration outreach in key swing states like Michigan.

Republican Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa demanded the SBA comply with congressional oversight on the matter, which has also led to at least one Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from a government watchdog earlier this week. 

The letter focused on allegations from Williams that the SBA is shirking its responsibility to “Main Street” in favor of helping register voters in Democratic areas of Michigan such as Detroit and Saginaw, while obstructing his panel’s constitutionally-sanctioned oversight of the activities of the cabinet agency.

“The SBA has shown a serious lack of transparency regarding the travels of senior SBA officials, including Administrator Guzman,” Williams said.

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“Main Street – and the American People – have a right to know what exactly is going on and how the SBA is spending their hard-earned tax dollars. I hope the SBA will be forthcoming with us and provide us with the requested documents as we continue our investigation into this matter.”

Ernst echoed Williams, saying in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital that the Biden administration agency has “no business pushing a partisan agenda on taxpayers’ dime.”

Ernst said the federal government should help struggling small businesses in the Biden economy, and that “open[ing] the books” is overdue for transparency’s sake.

The letter cited a reported April 17 video that alleged SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman was the “most traveled member of the president’s cabinet and participated in trips to indirectly campaign for the president.”

Williams and Ernst said after they viewed the video, they began investigating the accuracy of the statements, and preliminarily corroborated the claim. 

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“Specifically, these press releases indicated that you have traveled to critical battleground states for the upcoming election, including Michigan, and invited Democrat members of Congress on these trips nearly eight times more frequently than Republican members,” Williams and Ernst wrote. “On April 24, 2024, the Senate Committee sent a letter requesting your calendar, records of your travel, and White House communications.”

“To date, you have failed to respond.”

Williams’ office told Fox News that after they viewed the reported video, Ernst’s committee sent the agency a letter on the matter which they said never received a response as of this week. The Texas Republican’s office added that they have since not seen any public statements about “SBA taxpayer-funded trips.”

In the letter, the lawmakers demand calendars for Casillas Guzman and several other SBA officials, as well as past and future travel plans for them.

The lawmakers stated Williams’ committee has authority to demand such documentation under House Rule X, and the Senate panel under Senate Rule XXV S.1.

On Friday, the Heritage Foundation and its Oversight Project executive director Mike Howell sued the agency, alleging it failed to comply with legal public records requests for the “Memorandum of Understanding” announced earlier this year and forged between the SBA and Michigan Department of State with a 2021 executive order being the keystone of the coordination.

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The Oversight Project’s 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 March, the SBA announced its “first-ever” voter registration agreement with the Michigan agency. On May 7, Williams’ committee 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.

When 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 Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office on Wednesday in response to the earlier report was not returned by press time. Reached by phone, the SBA said in regard to the related suit it does not comment on ongoing legal matters.

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