Empower Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog organization, has filed a lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to demand compliance with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The lawsuit alleges that the requested records will reveal whether there were multiple conflicts of interest with former SEC Chair Jay Clayton and former director of the SEC’s Corporation Finance Division, William Hinman, both of whom are crypto-related.
According to Empower Oversight, Hinman received a pension from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a law firm that was a member of Enterprise Ethereum Alliance while he was at the SEC.
In 2018, Hinman declared in a speech that “the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions,” causing Ether’s value to soar.
However, that same month, the SEC filed a lawsuit against one of Ethereum’s rivals, Ripple, alleging that its XRP cryptocurrency was a security, violating federal securities law.
The lawsuit also mentions former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, who publicly stated while at the SEC that Bitcoin was not a security.
Clayton later joined One River Asset Management, a cryptocurrency hedge fund that focuses exclusively on Bitcoin and Ether.
Empower Oversight has previously filed FOIA requests and released 200 emails last April that focused on correspondence between Hinman and SEC personnel.
The organization has filed a complaint against the SEC in December 2021, and this latest lawsuit seeks “legally sufficient searches” to fulfill Empower’s FOIA requests and award attorney fees and “costs incurred in this action.”