March 11, 2019 Press Release

Records Obtained By Equity Forward Underscore the Importance of Access to Public Information

Freedom of Information Act responses unveil the most virulent anti-LGBTQ and anti-reproductive rights appointees at Trump’s Health and Human Services Department

03.11.19 – To kick off Sunshine Week, the news industry’s celebration of the importance of access to public information, Equity Forward today released a report underscoring the impact that open records have had in the fight to protect and expand access to reproductive health care. The report highlights the detrimental impact of anti-LGBTQ and anti-reproductive rights appointees at Trump’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) — information that has been uncovered through the watchdog group’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and subsequent lawsuits.

Included in the report are Steven Wagner and Heidi Stirrup, radical anti-welfare crusaders who are working to undermine the programs that they oversee, as well as anti-abortion extremists Matt Bowman and Maggie Wynne — both of whom would have flown under the radar in their widespread efforts to rollback women’s reproductive health care rights had it not been for public records. Former ORR Director Scott Lloyd, who became notorious for his attempts to limit young migrant women’s access to reproductive healthcare, rounds out the report.

“It’s clear that the Trump administration prefers to deal in the shadows, but we know that sunshine is the best disinfectant. We’ve had to take Trump’s health department to court seven times just to secure basic records,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward. “Access to these records is necessary to provide transparency under the misguided leadership of Health Secretary Alex Azar. The American public deserves to know that Azar is allowing our nation’s health department to bend to the will of extremists at the expense of this country’s most vulnerable populations.”

In late February Equity Forward filed its seventh lawsuit against HHS for its repeated failure to comply with open records laws. HHS is withholding records on a variety of requests, including:

  • the influence of outside groups on HHS policy and actions;

  • the creation of the new discriminatory Office for Civil Rights Conscience and Religious Freedom division; and,

  • Scott Lloyd’s myriad incompetencies as ORR director.  

More information about these anti-LGBTQ and anti-reproductive rights appointees can be found at

About Equity Forward

Equity Forward has long been sounding the alarm on the right wing takeover at our nation’s health department.  In addition to running,  an extensive website with a library of research on nearly 50 political appointees at (HHS) who are hostile to reproductive health care, Equity Forward also runs, which calls on Secretary Azar not to cut nearly $100 in lifesaving research at the behest of the anti-abortion lobby.