July 23, 2018 Press Release

Watchdog Group Launches Seven-Figure Campaign to Hold HHS Chief Alex Azar Accountable for Role in Family Separation

Equity Forward Calls on Congress to Conduct Aggressive Oversight of HHS’ Role in Family Separation Policy

07.23.18 – As the courts step in and force the administration to rollback their inhumane policy that separates families at the border, the public has more questions than answers as to how execution of the separations was formulated by agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In response, Equity Forward and Equity Forward Action, announced a seven-figure ad campaign to urge Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities over HHS and its secretary, Alex Azar.

Today, Equity Forward released a TV ad, “Disgrace,” with an initial heavy six-figure buy in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland metro area targeting HHS Secretary Alex Azar who has not been forthcoming about the agency’s actions in the past few months related to the care of and conditions for minors. According to news reports, Azar has “reluctantly taken on a new role” explaining the administration’s response to its crisis and continues to stonewall the press and public by failing to meet a basic level of transparency. Additionally, the AP reports that children describe being forced to endure inhumane conditions and abuse by guards at HHS-contracted detention facilities. Other ads will follow in the coming weeks.

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“The simple fact is that the administration implemented a dangerous policy that ripped children away from their families and it’s Alex Azar’s responsibility to house these children safely and to quickly reunify these families,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward. “It’s clear that Azar had no plan from the outset to return these children and while questions of conditions and safety abound, he continues to have no plan to manage the policy according to the law and existing court orders. To date, Azar has failed to adequately answer questions from Capitol Hill and the public about his agency’s conduct and mismanagement of this crisis. The public deserves better and it’s up to Congress to immediately fulfill their constitutional oversight responsibilities and hold Azar accountable.”

In addition to the TV ad, Equity Forward continued an ad campaign targeting Scott Lloyd, head of HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, who has been kept out of the public eye since April 11th and hasn’t testified in front of Congress since October 2017. The following full page ad will run in tomorrow’s Northern Virginia Daily:

Carter continued, “Scott Lloyd was picked to lead HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement with the slimmest experience with refugees and none with overseeing children. While running the refugee office he has become infamous for violating the civil rights of detainees and for standing in the way of young people receiving health care.  Lloyd is the point person for this humanitarian crisis and he is nowhere to be found. Alex Azar and Scott Lloyd need to be held accountable for their actions.”

The campaign is part of Equity Forward’s “HHS Watch” a project to promote transparency and accountability at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.