The second lawsuit was filed by Empower Oversight against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking documents related to conflicts of interest and selective enforcement by former high-level officials regarding cryptocurrencies. The lawsuit is in response to the SEC’s refusal to comply with Empower Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which was filed in December 2022.
The report highlights Empower Oversight’s efforts to promote transparency at the SEC and shed light on the agency’s conflicts of interest. It also includes a list of records that Empower Oversight is requesting from the SEC, including communications and meeting notes between SEC officials and individuals and entities related to cryptocurrencies.
“The SEC’s failure to provide any transparency on this issue is making a bad situation look even worse. We’re approaching two years since Empower Oversight made its initial FOIA request, and a year and a half since our first lawsuit.”
In May 2022, Empower Oversight submitted a referral to the SEC Inspector General, citing documents that raised concerns about the SEC and its Ethics Office’s mishandling of conflicts of interest related to cryptocurrency issues. The documents also suggested potential impropriety in Hinman’s contacts with his former law firm, Simpson Thacher, and their involvement in promoting a specific cryptocurrency over others.
“Yet the SEC has consistently stonewalled any attempts to shed light on these clear conflicts of interest at the agency. This new suit against the SEC should force the SEC to do the searches it knows it must do under the law to give the public the answers we’ve long sought,” said Tristan Leavitt, President of Empower Oversight.
Later, in October 2022, Empower Oversight contested the SEC’s motion for summary judgment in the ongoing FOIA lawsuit. The lawsuit pertains to documents related to conflicts of interest and selective enforcement in cryptocurrency cases, and Empower Oversight argued against the motion for summary judgment.