Spreading Sunshine: Sen. Ernst Introduces “Watchdog Act” (and gives WCW a Shout-Out)

Posted by Amanda Nieves
18 March 2022 | Blog


Waste Warrior, Veteran, and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst loves transparency and hates government waste.  She’s supported countless efforts to promote good governance and curb wasteful spending — in addition to calling out unnecessary frivolities, like putting turkeys on treadmills to see how fast they walk.

(The answer is 6mph. Now, ask yourself: was that information worth $1.7 million?)

Timed for Sunshine Week 2022, Sen. Ernst spoke on the Senate floor about her newly-introduced bill, the Watchdog Act. This bill, which White Coat Waste Project (WCW) is proud to support, might be the most pro-transparency bill we’ve ever seen.

It would establish a “Taxpayer Watchdog Office” within the White House to oversee and promote openness in government, ensuring agencies comply with existing transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, and other access-to-information laws. The Taxpayer Watchdog Office would tell taxpayers what information they have a right to obtain, and help them get it from federal agencies and departments.

The Watchdog Act would also grade every federal agency on how well it handles public records requests, and work with the Department of Justice to resolve complaints.

In other words: this “dog” has teeth!

Wow. We love it. Imagine the amount of cruel, unnecessary, and wasteful animal experiments we’d be able to find, expose, and defund if government white coats didn’t keep trying to hide their records from public view!  Senator Joni Ernst Watchdog Act

We also love the fact that our work with Sen. Ernst helped inspire this bill. “I teamed up with my friends at the White Coat Waste Project to use a combination of these transparency laws to follow a trail of U.S. taxpayer dollars to China’s state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology,” she said — but don’t take our word for it. Hear it for yourself:

Later in her speech, Sen. Ernst gave us another shout-out (!), explaining how we tracked the flow of tax money from your wallet to the Wuhan Animal Lab: “White Coat Waste Project then used FOIA to obtain internal NIH emails, which revealed the agency was funding controversial gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute in 2016.”

If the snippets above weren’t enough, listen to Sen. Ernst’s entire March 15 speech on the Watchdog Act here, and read more about the bill here.

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” Sen. Ernst said during her speech. “This D.O.G., the Director of Openness in Government, will be taxpayers’ best friend.”

Thank you, Senator Ernst, for your commitment to win the War on Waste!

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