Government Watchdog Calls on Justice Department to Investigate Former Trump Railroad Official Heath Hall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2018

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, asked the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice to investigate whether Heath Hall, former Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) violated federal criminal law by willfully filing a public financial disclosure report in which he falsely claimed he would not be receiving outside income.

Read the complaint here.

CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “Heath Hall’s appointment to the FRA was an unmitigated disaster from the get-go.  Not only did he completely lack any experience for the critical job of overseeing America’s rail network, but he was holding down a second job as a Mississippi public relations consultant.  What’s worse, Hall lied about his consulting work on his financial disclosure form.  The Justice Department should investigate to make it clear that lying on financial disclosure forms is against the law.”

On June 23, 2017, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao picked Hall to serve as the Deputy Administrator of the FRA.  Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hall ran a public relations and political consulting firm, Strategic Marketing Group, LLC, located in Mississippi.  On the Public Financial Disclosure Report Mr. Hall filed on July 3, 2017, Mr. Hall described the firm as an “[i]ndividually owned consulting business that will remain dormant during Federal Service.”

While he worked at FRA, Mr. Hall maintained a contract with the Madison County Sheriff’s office. In August, a Mississippi television station quoted him as a spokesman for the sheriff’s office and a former FRA public affairs official reported fielding several requests for comment from Hall from a Mississippi television journalist. Madison County records indicate the county paid the firm $12,000 between June and November of 2017.  It’s also possible Hall maintained other, private clients.

For weeks, the Department of Transportation refused to respond to inquiries about Hall’s outside employment.

Knowingly providing false information on a federal financial disclosure form is a federal crime. Yet at the time he submitted the disclosure form claiming his firm would be dormant, and continuing throughout his brief tenure at the FRA, Hall was being paid by Madison County.

Stevens continued, “Not only was Hall moonlighting while working on the taxpayer’s dime, he was lying about it. The Department of Transportation was slow to hold Hall accountable. The question now is will DOJ do any better?”

Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.