Freedom of Information Act Requests for Information about Health Hall, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration
On February 6, 2018, CfA filed 5 Freedom of Information Act requests for information about Health Hall, former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”). Before joining the FRA, Mr. Hall worked as the president of Strategic Marketing Group, LLC (“SMG”), a full-service public relations firm. The firm, SMG, appeared to continue its political consulting work in Mississippi while Mr. Hall worked at FRA. On June 5, 2017, the Madison County Mississippi Board of Supervisors voted to authorize a contract of $2,500 per month for SMG to provide public relations services for the county. Then, on June 14, 2017, Mr. Hall sent a letter to the County Administrator declining the contract. Evidence indicates, however, that Mr. Hall continued to work for the county despite declining the contract.
On August 2, 2017, the CBS affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi, WJTV, cited Mr. Hall as a representative of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. The local news network ran a story using information that Mr. Hall had released on behalf of the Sherriff’s Department. Mr. Hall was apparently providing representation for the county more than one month after he began working at FRA. Financial records also indicate Mr. Hall’s firm continued to work for the county. Between July 5, 2017, and December 4, 2017, the county paid SMG a total of $12,000 to SMG for public relations, with the last payment coming in December, more than five months after Mr. Hall joined the Department of Transportation.
On January 26, 2018, Politico reported Mr. Hall was on “an extended leave” of absence from the FRA. Mr. Hall’s name was taken down from the FRA’s website. On February 10, 2018, the Department of Transportation announced that Mr. Hall had resigned.
Taxpayers deserve to know if a top administration official was concurrently employed by an outside organization and what steps, if any, were taken to ensure Mr. Hall was acting ethically on behalf of the public interest.