Adam Andrzejewski: NIH Slow-Walking FOIA Requests for Fauci’s Finances; Potential Conflicts of Interest Among Scientists
“Fauci is the director of a sub-agency of a sub-agency of Health and Human Services. So how can he outearn everybody else at the federal level, including the president, including four-star generals in the United States military with millions of men and women underneath their command?”
I sit down with Adam Andrzejewski, the CEO and founder of the government watchdog organization OpenTheBooks.com, which tracks and publicizes government spending. In the last year alone, they filed over 47,000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
On behalf of OpenTheBooks.com, Judicial Watch sued the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for documents on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s financials. They are also investigating conflicts of interest at the NIH and have filed a lawsuit demanding information on the roughly 1,000 NIH scientists, currently employed or retired, who receive royalties from third parties, such as pharmaceutical companies, for co-inventions.
But the NIH is slow-walking their requests, and only releasing documents covered in redactions of useful information, he argues. The NIH is releasing 300 pages a month over the course of 10 months (3000 pages total).
He breaks down what he and his team have found so far, and what else needs to be uncovered.
Correction: An earlier version of the description of this episode incorrectly described the number of pages being released by the NIH in response to OpenTheBooks.com FOIA requests. The correct number is 300 pages a month for 10 months, for a total of 3000 pages.
Jan Jekielek: Adam Andrzejewski, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Adam Andrzejewski: Well, it’s great to be here, Jan. Thank you for having me on the program.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re the Founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com. Recently you made some headlines after being knocked off being a “Forbes” columnist that you’ve been for I think almost a decade after you published a report about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s personal finances. So this is what we’re going to talk about today. Before we go there though, I want to talk a little bit about OpenTheBooks.com and the amazing work that you do and how you got to this place.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So at OpenTheBooks.com, we have a simple mission. It’s Every Dime, Online, In Real Time. And we take it seriously. Our vision is to capture and post online every dime, taxed and spent at every level of government across the entire country. That’s at the federal level, the state level and the local level. So last year, executing on that vision, we filed 47,000 Freedom of Information Act requests. It was the most in American history. We successfully captured $12 trillion worth of government spending. And we do this so people can follow the money, so we can hold our elected officials accountable for tax and spend decisions.
Mr. Jekielek: But wait a second. Did you just say, in the last year you filed 47,000, no?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Up to last year.
Mr. Andrzejewski: No. In one year, 47,000 Freedom of Information Act requests. So let me tell you a little bit about what we’ve successfully captured in terms of government spending. For the first time in our nation’s history, we’ve captured virtually every single public employee salary and pension record, again, at every level. So right in your K through 12 school districts, we have the salary payroll file captured and displayed online. You can come to OpenTheBooks.com. You can search those salaries for free right from our website.
Mr. Jekielek: Why is this important?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, the entire American experiment is premised on the individual. We instituted a government to secure our rights. And our founders knew the power of transparency and they wrote it into the United States constitution. So it’s Article 1, Section 9, and it states that a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time. And today it’s the internet age. It’s the age of big data. It has a clear interpretation.
Post every dime online in real time—open the books. People are supposed to be able to hold their elected officials accountable for tax and spend decisions. And we’ve abrogated that responsibility over the years. At OpenTheBooks.com, we believe transparency revolutionizes United States public policy and politics. And we’re empowering regular people where they live with the means to hold their officials accountable.
Mr. Jekielek: How did you get into this? That’s the question I have because your reports are very meticulous and that’s something I appreciate. So I like having you on the show because everything you tell me is substantiating. I ask a question and you’re already saying, “No, I’ve got the receipts here,” right?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right. Yes, no. So back when I was in the second and the fourth grade, my father as a conservative Democrat ran against one of the most corrupt Illinois politicians in our state’s history. And that actually means something, Jan. So my dad ran for state representative against Republican George Ryan, who eventually became governor. And he’s one of the infamous governors that spent time in the federal penitentiary.
My father ran on a good government platform. And even when he lost against Ryan. He did instill in me that politics is noble. And so after my brother and I started a publishing company, over 10 years, we grew that to $20 million worth of sales. I had the good fortune in 2007 to sell my shares. Then I got into my true passion, which is public policy. And I searched around for an issue. I met former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn, who eventually became our Honorary Chairman at OpenTheBooks.com. And with Coburn, we rolled out on a national basis this vision of robust and substantial transparency where people could follow the money.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me a few of your I guess maybe unusual finds over the years. Okay. How about that?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So one of the most unusual things that we showcased, and it was in the summer of 2019, and many people will remember this because it trended on national Twitter. We realized our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com. I don’t do this by myself. I’ve got a great team of auditors. We realized that the human waste calls the 311 line and the city of San Francisco came with latitude and longitude coordinates. And so we did what any good watchdog organization would do, we took that file.
Over a nine year period, there was 130,000 cases of human waste in the public way. And we took that file and we mapped it on an interactive map. And yes, Jan, we did use brown pins and the whole city was brown. There was a brown out in the Bay Area. A picture of that map trended on national Twitter.
Many people will remember that. And I’m proud to say that we reframed the entire homeless debate in the country from that map. It was a human health catastrophe, and a picture tells a thousand words. What we did in 2021 was pretty significant.
When President Joe Biden was claiming that the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan was one of the most successful extractions of a military force in all of human history, we showed a staggering cost of the U.S. military gear left behind: 600,000 weapons, 75,000 military vehicles, and up to 16,000 night vision devices left behind. And if we ever go back into Afghanistan, we have lost the night time advantage, and it will come at a significant cost in terms of United States treasure and soldiers.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. I remember that report. And it’s stunning to hear these types of numbers. I mean, 75,000 vehicles around give or take a few thousand. It’s kind of unbelievable. But all this information is cataloged somewhere, but it’s not necessarily immediately available.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, and after we showcase that report on the staggering cost of the gear left behind, it came with a cost. The Biden administration ripped down the audit reports that our reporting was based on. But word from Illinois, it is the Super Bowl of corruption. And we know that if you’re going to base an oversight report on an audit, you secure that audit to your hard drive, which we did. So we reposted those audits. So even “The Washington Post” when they were fact checking politicians on their statements about the U.S. military gear left behind was linking to our website. The audit report that the Biden administration had ripped down, but we had successfully reposted.
Mr. Jekielek: The thing is not all this information is available online. In fact, that’s what kind of led you to get into trouble most recently. But tell me a little bit about this process. Of course, you use this prolific user of FOIA. Quick, very briefly, what is FOIA? And then, why do you need it, I guess?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So the Freedom of Information Act statutes, the law, is premised in the constitution in Article 1, Section 9, but it is the statutory process that citizens use to go about capturing information we already own. And that’s what’s most important. So if a unit of government tries to charge you fees for that process, we call that a transparency tax. Government shouldn’t do that because the citizen already owns the data.
We’re just following a statutory process to take possession of the expenditures. And the costs are already sunk. There’s no additional cost ever to a citizen filing that request. It’s the most important thing the government can do is to provide people the information on how they spend our tax dollars. And so we’ve done that. We file two requests every year. First one is for the salary payroll file. And the second one is for the line by line vendor expenditures, the checkbook of a unit of government.
So at the federal level, we get all of it. At the state level, we get all of it, except for California. In California, we don’t have the state checkbook. And we just sued the comptroller of California for that, and we actually lost the case. The comptroller successfully argued in a Sacramento Superior Court that they don’t have to turn over even a single transaction of the 50 million bills they paid last year because the burden on them outweighs the public interest to we the people, in seeing how our own tax dollars were spent. It’s an incredible argument. And do we really have a representative republic in California if the representatives get to hide their spending from the people and claim it’s for the people’s good?
Mr. Jekielek: What does, the burden to them is greater than, mean here? I don’t understand, with the burden to the California government.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yes. They say that their systems are antiquated and old. And sure enough, during discovery, we learn that each year they have about 200,000 transactions that are only done on paper, no electronics. The paper is then bound using string as a binding system. And so every single transaction they would have to take and unbind the paper using string, I kid you not, and to be able to produce and copy these records. Look, the system is designed to hide taxpayers, hide their expenditures paid for by all of us.
Mr. Jekielek: So you think this is intentional basically, that it’s set up in such a way so that it would be difficult to produce so that you could make a case like this. That’s what you’re saying?
Mr. Andrzejewski: It’s absolutely intentional. And I’ll give you a further example. So after the judge ruled, and this is only about two months ago, our team then filed 550 Freedom of Information Act requests on every single California agency. So instead of filing one request with the comptroller, we were forced to file with the individual agencies. And we’ve already captured $65 billion worth of California state expenditures from the agencies. The agencies can produce this where the comptroller, whose constitutional responsibility to be the repository and the auditor of that information, argued that it was too much of a burden on her office to produce even a single transaction. Unfortunately, the judge bought that argument.
Mr. Jekielek: Are you trying to change that, or is someone trying to change that somehow? Or do you have to go to 550 agencies?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So we are going to 550 agencies and we’re having success there at the agency level. So we are going to be able to assemble a checkbook in the state of California. And California will finally then join the other 49 states. Now in the other 49 states obviously, we just have to file one request. We get the entire repository of state spending. In California, we’re going to have to file 550 requests and assemble the checkbook. And we’re doing that now.
Mr. Jekielek: Another question, there are 550 agencies in California? It’s crazy.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right. At every level, Jan, you know this, the size, scope and power of the federal state and local governments is on steroids over the course of the last 20 years.
Mr. Jekielek: Over the last year, I think you said you had, what? 12, you captured $12 trillion, right, worth of spending? What percentage of that is that of the total?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So we think we have 90 cents on every dollar taxed and spent at every level of government across the entire country. Where we’re missing some data is at the local level. So there are about 50,000 substantial local units of government across the country. And we have about 15,000 of their checkbooks. So we’re missing about 35,000 checkbooks. And that’s about probably 10 percent of what’s taxed and spent in the country. We have the larger units of government like the 500 largest cities, the top 100 largest cities, of course, things like that. We’ve captured a lot of those checkbooks. So it’s the smaller units that we’re missing.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and as we kind of transition into talking about, so the main event here, I remember vaguely, you capturing some kind of surprising number of lobster dinners or something in the… I don’t know if that’s a yearly adventure to kind of catalog things like that in a particular department or a particular agency. You kind of quantify these things in these interesting ways that kind of, like I say, are shocking to the populace.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right. So that was use it or lose it federal spending. What that is a description of what happens in the last month of the federal fiscal year, when the federal agencies spend down their budgets in the last month, so they can get the same or more money from Congress in the next year. And so what we found with that was the Department of Defense was spending down their lobster tail and snow crab budget to the tune of millions of dollars in the last 30 days of the year. And when we showcase that, that made national news.
Mr. Jekielek: This is actually worth dwelling on just for a moment more. I mean, it’s kind of counterintuitive to someone that as an entrepreneur has a small for-profit business. You’re trying to save every penny, but this is kind of in the nonprofit world, or I suppose the government agency world. It’s more like: No, you have to kind of hit. If you don’t hit your budget, you’re actually going to get less money next time because hey, you didn’t need it.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: So that creates this bizarre spend it in the last month situation.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, that is a real problem, Jan, when the federal agencies can’t even spend all the money that Congress is throwing at them.
Mr. Jekielek: When is it that you decided to start looking at Dr. Anthony Fauci’s finances? Or-
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yeah, that’s a fair question.
Mr. Jekielek: What is it that got you thinking about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s finances?
Mr. Andrzejewski: This is a good point for everybody watching the program. Come to OpenTheBooks.com, look at your local unit of government. You don’t even know what you might find. So right on our own website, I was training a new hire and our federal payrolls were posted for the first time for the new fiscal year, which was 2019 at the time. And I was looking at this in January of 2021, and 2019 was the latest year available, and I noticed that Dr. Anthony Fauci was the number one top paid federal employee—out-earning everybody else. And I stopped the training. It was a new journalist. And I said, “That’s your first piece. Ghost draft a thousand words. He’s the top paid. Let’s build it out from every angle and let’s put it up at Forbes.” And that’s exactly the story as to what happened.
We simply looked at our own website with the post of the federal payroll. He was the top paid. He was the most visible. No one’s affected public policy more in the last two years than Dr. Anthony Fauci. And so we gave him oversight. That’s what kicked off the investigation. And from there, people had questions. You see, Fauci is the director of a subagency of a subagency of Health and Human Services. So how can he outearn everybody else at the federal level, including the president, including four star generals in the United States military with millions of men and women underneath their command? 4.3 million of his colleagues at the federal level, he outearns all of them. How? And that’s when we started filing Freedom of Information Act requests. And that’s what kicked off the investigation.
Mr. Jekielek: And just to be clear that it’s something like $424,000 a year, if I recall correctly?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So the first in 2019, he made 417,000, outearning everybody. In 2020, that increased to approximately 435,000. And now we just got the new data through for fiscal year 2021, and he’s up to $456,000.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay. Well, so how? Tell me.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Oh, how?
Mr. Jekielek: Yes.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So we’re getting to the bottom of that, but we filed the Freedom of Information Act request for some very important information for his contract with all amendments, modifications and changes to that contract, his job description, his conflict of interest documents, his royalties, if any, his ethics statements, all of this information to codify the record so we can begin an investigation.
NIH, the National Institutes of Health, which is Fauci’s employer, produced virtually nothing subject to that request. We sued them in federal court in October. It’s now been five months when we’re sitting here, 14 months since our initial Freedom of Information Act request, five months since the lawsuit, and they’ve still virtually produced nothing subject to that request. But today, they admit they’re holding 1,200 pages subject to that request.
Jan, let’s put that in context. A year ago, Congress passed the American Rescue Act. It was a COVID aid bill. They spent $2 trillion. And it was only 600 pages. There’s 1,200 pages of Fauci financials that NIH admits to, that we have a federal lawsuit on, they’re engaging in expensive litigation paid for by you and I, the taxpayer to keep taxpayers ignorant, to stop taxpayers from learning how taxpayer dollars are being spent. And that’s what we’re up against.
Mr. Jekielek: How common is it to find this kind of a roadblock like you just described?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, I think this is unique. I think a decision was made back in 2004 that Dr. Anthony Fauci was invaluable, indispensable to the ongoing concern of the United States of America based on health, safety and biodefense. And here’s why I make that statement. In one of the documents, there was only 58 pages produced underneath our Freedom of Information Act request, but one of the documents was a memo, and it was a private memo. We’re the first to publish it. And it laid out why Dr. Anthony Fauci is the top paid federal employee. It was for his work on biodefense. So I believe a decision was made that Fauci is untouchable, that he is necessary for the ongoing concern of the country on his biodefense work to keep us safe.
Now that was a private memo, but in 2008, President George W. Bush recognized that Fauci was untouchable when he gave him the highest civilian honor—the Presidential Medal of Freedom award. And so that recognized that Fauci needed to be on the team, that they didn’t want him jumping to a pharmaceutical company. It is why today that he is the top paid federal employee. Now, he was paid for his biodefense work to stop the next pandemic, and obviously he failed in that quest. And his detractors today and his critics will also say that his prescriptions on the COVID-19 pandemic, the prescription was actually worse than the disease.
Mr. Jekielek: Presumably this is why you’re saying the oversight is important in situations like this.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So Tony Fauci is a big boy. He knows exactly what he signed up for. He is in the room helping craft the policies. And so certainly he understands that all those decisions, the successes that he’s had and the failures will receive scrutiny and will receive oversight.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to touch on something you mentioned moments ago. You said they probably wanted to prevent him from jumping to pharma.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: How common is that for these HHS employees to jump to pharma?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, the theory is that you can make a lot more in the private sector as a top doctor, a person with expertise. And so in order to keep Fauci on the team, they set up a special situation for him. I don’t know how common it is at NIH where scientists jumped to pharma, but certainly that was what they were trying to prevent with Dr. Fauci.
Mr. Jekielek: What are you expecting to see in these 1,200 pages that have yet to be produced, given your background, your knowledge? What’s going to be in there? Not the details, but what kinds of things? Yeah.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So on Dr. Fauci’s contract, we expect to see waivers for conflict of interest. We expect that Dr. Fauci’s contract has more waivers than the contract that the Rolling Stones had when they played Madison Square Garden. One of the waivers we expect to see is the conflict of interest waiver with him and his wife, Mrs. Fauci, Christine Grady. Many people don’t know that Christine Grady is actually Head of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Grady has admitted that her team from an ethical standpoint, from a bioethics standpoint, has issued studies and studied “millions of angles related to COVID-19.” She said this in the summer of 2020 during the hard pandemic year.
The Fauci’s live a conflict of interest. They’re on both sides of the bioethics table, around the breakfast table at home, at the office, and around the dinner table. Mrs. Fauci, Christine Grady has said that her bioethics studies they’ve published on, for instance, whether it’s ethical to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. They’ve published studies on the therapeutic Remdesivir. They’ve done studies on the intersection between mask mandates and a loss of personal freedom—millions of angles on COVID-19. While Dr. Fauci, Tony Fauci is running America’s response to COVID-19 from a health standpoint, Christine Grady was setting the foundation on the bioethics studies. That lends itself to a lot more questions.
Mr. Jekielek: In this kind of a situation, what would be I guess a common practice, or what would you expect or what would you hope for?
Mr. Andrzejewski: I’m not sure it’s a conflict that’s solvable, quite frankly. The only… Here’s what we advocate. transparency. All these studies need to be published easily, accessible, online for the American people. All of Dr. Fauci’s finances should immediately, these are public documents, they should be immediately released by NIH. We shouldn’t be having to engage in expensive litigation to open the books on Dr. Anthony Fauci or even to call for a nice repository of all the ethical studies from his wife, Christine Grady. All of this should be opened up. And this has public policy implications.
If the Republicans take control of the House, there is going to be endless oversight investigations of this entire COVID-19 response with Dr. Fauci at the nexus of that hurricane. And so right now they should get out in front of all of it and just open the books on everything. So the politicians, the pundits, the media, the people, so we can see how the sausage was made from A to Z.
Mr. Jekielek: So in one of the reports that you published, you mentioned that there are 633 FOIA requests that are past due and there’s 33 lawsuits that the NIH is engaged in. Is that still the case right now? And are these all yours or is this everything that’s out there?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So that’s everything that’s out there in terms of Freedom of Information Act requests on the agency, the National Institutes of Health during a pandemic. They have underfunded the Freedom of Information Act production office. They don’t have enough employees quite obviously to turn around Freedom of Information Act requests, right to know requests by the media, by people on a timely basis. They’re not complying with Open Records law. And there’s 33 lawsuits. Now our organization at OpenTheBooks.com in conjunction with Judicial Watch, we have two of those lawsuits. So I want to walk you through a timeline of how the National Institutes of Health has declared war on transparency.
So in January of 2021, our organization filed those Freedom of Information Act requests on the Fauci financials. And the agency produced virtually nothing. 10 months later, we sued them in federal court. And they’ve produced over a five month period, virtually nothing of any value. In January, Tony Fauci goes into the Senate hearing and under questioning about his finances. U.S. Senator Roger Marshall cites “Forbes,” which was my column, our investigation on Fauci’s financials at OpenTheBooks.com and Fauci melts down on national television. He calls the Senator a moron, but he says, “My financials are public knowledge.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci: I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question. My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so.
Mr. Andrzejewski: He misled the country. When I called him out on it at ”Forbes,” NIH, his employer put pressure on “Forbes.” They came down hard on “Forbes”.”Forbes” came down hard on me. I told the truth. My column was canceled. This is what’s going on over at National Institutes of Health. There is a multilayered strategy spending and funded by taxpayers to keep taxpayers in the dark about how NIH is spending taxpayer money.
Mr. Jekielek: How can you be so sure that there is this strategy and almost sounds like a kind of a conspiracy or something like that? Where do you see that?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So I actually brought a physical example of what I’m talking about. Okay. So we have a lawsuit on the Fauci financials. We also have a lawsuit on the roughly 1,000 scientists that are either currently employed or retired from National Institutes of Health, who receive royalties from third parties, say pharmaceutical companies for co-inventions, and it’s perfectly legal. They can receive up to $150,000 a piece per year of royalties for co-inventions.
And the National Institutes of Health admit that they owe us 3,000 pages worth of line by line royalties. And Jan, every single line could be a potential conflict of interest, especially during a pandemic. So we want to see that database. So on February 1st, NIH started producing subject to our lawsuit at 300 pages a month, those royalties. And I want to show everybody what they’ve produced. Here’s the first production, it’s 3,000 pages. And the only thing you can see on it is the scientist’s name, the NIH employee, or retiree.
Mr. Jekielek: In most cases, I see in one case it’s even blacked out, the name I think. Yeah.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So all the payments to the scientists are redacted. They’re blacked out. All the payors, the companies paying the royalty, their names are blacked out. All you can see is summary lines. So basically you have 3,000 pages that is virtually worthless production for oversight.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay. That’s a great graphic representation because I was actually going to ask you, what do you mean that they’ve produced virtually nothing of value? So this is what you’re saying, the…
Mr. Andrzejewski: They’re producing 3,000 pages a month and it’s virtually worthless for oversight purposes.
Mr. Jekielek: Right, because the key elements are basically redacted.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Because they’re classified?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, they’re saying that the redaction notation says that it’s private information. Okay. So back in 2005, I think it was “The New York Times,” they actually got the database. And then there was an agency policy rule that was put in place by 2008 saying that this database is supposed to be on the NIH website. When we couldn’t find it, that’s when we filed the Freedom of Information Act request for it. And now we get the production and it’s like I said, virtually worthless with so many redactions. Sure, it’s production, but it’s not, it doesn’t show you much detail at all.
Mr. Jekielek: So this website that essentially you want to put up at OpenTheBooks.com actually is supposed to be according to a rule existing on the NIH website as we speak, it’s just not there.
Mr. Andrzejewski: That was the policy as of approximately 2008. That was agency policy put in place at that time.
Mr. Jekielek: So by your estimation, how many situations are there like this, where this type of information is supposed to be available on a website explicitly, but is somehow missing or not there?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, I think there’s a war on transparency at many agencies of the federal government. For example, the Federal Reserve, they have 23,000 employees. They actually, when we filed for their payroll, they turned over only 369. They hid over 98 percent of their payroll from us saying that the privacy interest of those employees outweighed the public interest in production. And we think that is a terrible precedent. And we need to sue on that basis. The Federal Reserve also said when we filed for their vendor payments, that they don’t have a vendor checkbook database. But they said that if we have the name of a vendor, they could search it and get us the information. And when we asked for clarification, hey, if you can search something, we want a copy of that. They just didn’t respond. Okay. This is the type of battle that we face at OpenTheBooks.com, not all the time, but sometimes, and we’re seeing it more and more at the federal level.
Mr. Jekielek: So I read you started a Substack and I actually want to give you a chance to just mention it because you no longer have a Forbes column. So presumably this is where your future reports will be posted. Is that right?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yes. So I was at “Forbes” for nearly eight years. I put up 206 investigations at “Forbes.” I estimate that I wrote probably a quarter million words on the platform. And it was a key platform and I treasured the relationship there for many years, but it all changed when I started writing about Dr. Fauci. I’m pleased that “Forbes” has kept my author archive live. I’m proud of the work that we put up there. A lot of great investigations that made national news.
When “Forbes’ canceled the column, that’s when I opened up the Substack column. And our first piece up there tells the story in detail of how fact finding Fauci led to my cancellation at “Forbes’. And it’s got over a hundred thousand views and we’ve already gotten nearly 6,000 people that have subscribed to the Substack. And you can see it at substack.com, Open The Books.
Mr. Jekielek: You make a point of mentioning in this report that you wrote about this whole experience, that you’re very commonly an editor’s pick, for example. I mean, this is you make a point of saying that you’re nonpartisan. Although while actually a lot, I’ve seen Open The Books described as a right wing organization by a number of people. But you say that you’re-
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yeah, it’s a rare description. I can’t remember that description of being out there. We basically take on old commerce. We’ve partnered with CNBC to take on the Disgraced former Congressman Duncan Hunter out of California. That was on the program, “American Greed.’ And I was the subject matter expert on election campaign spending and congressional benefits. We’ve partnered with “The New York Times.” We mapped every single rat sighting in the city of New York. And it was such an impactful report that it made their publishers state of the paper address at the end of the year. We’ve partnered with “USA TODAY” on numerous stories. And also we’ve got great partnerships with news organizations that you would characterize on the center right as well.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, no, absolutely. And frankly, that’s how I view your work. It seems to be a common pejorative where people will say, right wing is somehow pejorative, or something like that. And there’s all sorts of people who have been surprised to find themselves described as such, right? How is it that this specific situation is what caused your column to be canceled in your mind? That’s really the big question because you’ve published quite a few pretty hard hitting pieces in the past.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, I think we have to look to the behavior of the National Institutes of Health. The information that I published was so sensitive to NIH, Fauci’s employer that on a Sunday morning, two directors of NIH, two bureau chiefs and two PR officers took time out from protecting the health of the nation during a pandemic right here in January when Omicron was peaking to write a letter to “Forbes,” an organization that’s been around for a hundred years and basically tell them that they, “We don’t like Andrzejewski’s reporting.” And deliver the subliminal message, do something about it. “Forbes” got the message. And within 24 hours, I was told I could not write about Dr. Anthony Fauci any longer. And then I had to clear-
Mr. Jekielek: But wait a sec, they don’t explicitly say this.
Mr. Andrzejewski: No, of course not.
Mr. Jekielek: Right. Okay, just to be clear. Yeah.
Mr. Andrzejewski: They write a corrections email and they copy the top guy at “Forbes,’ Randall Lane, the chief content officer and myself, but there’s a million dollars worth of government payroll on there. Randall Lane can figure it out. There’s the directors, the bureau, everybody at NIH. This was an email that was completely cleared at the highest levels of the organization, right? Forbes gets that. So it was a correction email with no substantial corrections, but the message was delivered. We don’t like Andrzejewski. We’d appreciate it if you do something about it. “Forbes” folded quickly.
Mr. Jekielek: Why would they fold? Why do you think that?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, I don’t know. I’d never met Randall Lane before. But if we take a step back and if we look at the size, scope and power of the National Institutes of Health today and compare that up against “Forbes,” I think it might give people some insight into what’s going on in this circumstance and across the country nowadays.
So NIH, according to our data that we’ve captured at OpenTheBooks.com, every year NIH doles out $30 billion worth of government grant making. Okay. Forbes as an entire platform, Wall Street values that platform somewhere around $500 million. So NIH is doling out 60 times the equity value of the entire Forbes platform in grants every year. The eight schools of the Ivy League over a recent six year period collected $10 billion from NIH in terms of grants.
I mean, this buys you a lot of friends, a lot of favor and a lot of institutional credibility, right? Fauci himself every year doles out about $6 billion worth of grant making out of his subagency of NIH. NIH has 19,000 employees. “Forbes” on their website and I checked it again this morning has around 450 to 500 employees. There are more than 30 times, almost 40 times the number of employees over at NIH versus “Forbes.” I really think NIH thinks “Forbes” works for them. And by “Forbes” folding, it emboldens NIH to do it again to the next journalist that is giving oversight to Dr. Anthony Fauci or somebody else.
Mr. Jekielek: We reached out to “Forbes” to ask why Andrzejewski was removed as a contributor. A Forbes spokesperson declined to provide specifics, but said that the NIH and Dr. Fauci did not factor into the decision. The spokesperson disputed Andrzejewski’s claim that he was prohibited from covering Dr. Fauci after NIH officials emailed Forbes. Well, clearly you’ve made clear you’re going to continue providing oversight. So what is in your kind of vision? What would you hope happens now, given that there’s been some publicity given to this whole topic now? A hundred thousand views on yours. I think that original column from January 2021 is almost a million views on that “Forbes” column.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: So there’s both the story of what happened to you and the story about personal finances is getting some play.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Yes, of course. So look, I think the National Institutes of Health needs to open the books on the Fauci family finances. They need to provide [that]. They’ve admitted they’re holding 1,200 pages related to our Freedom of Information Act request from 15 months ago and our federal lawsuit. Produce the record. These are basic public documents and they need to come clean with the American people.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve been theorizing. And I think actually Dr. Fauci himself has hinted. I wasn’t sure which came first actually, that he might be looking to retire in the near future. So what makes you think that?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So we estimated in December and I published this at “Forbes.” We estimated that Dr. Fauci will retire on the largest golden parachute federal pension in U.S. federal government history. And that’s 355,000 or a little bit more in his first year. So he’ll be paid to stay home on day one about, not quite, almost a thousand dollars a day. Over the first three years of his retirement, he’ll clean off more than a million dollars of federal pension. And so I think that’s looking very attractive to him right now, especially if Republicans take the House and do oversight. I think that he’s looking to start the next chapter in his life.
Mr. Jekielek: So any other hints? I mean, so just because you feel like he might be thinking he might be investigated.
Mr. Andrzejewski: So, he went on ABC News and he basically floated the trial balloon that he’s looking at retirement and this was about a week ago. So I do think that he’s looking at that. But look, the federal benefits are very lucrative, so just paid time off. Now I think Dr. Fauci has been in the federal system for about 55 years. So his paid time off, PTO bank of days is probably pretty massive. He seems like he’s a pretty hard worker. He probably didn’t take a lot of time off. So we know that when you hit your three year anniversary as a federal bureaucrat, you get nearly nine weeks, 44 days of paid time off just after three years. So Fauci has probably got a massive PTO account. He’ll probably start to draw that down. If Republicans take control of Congress, then he’ll probably take the golden parachute.
Mr. Jekielek: So two questions, what is it that you found that so, I guess unexpected, or they might want to hide? And what is it that you think they might be hiding at this point?
Mr. Andrzejewski: So here’s what we found. Number one, that Dr. Anthony Fauci is the top paid federal employee and makes $456,000 a year. Number two, that Christine Grady, Mrs. Fauci, she outearns the vice president and makes $238,000. So if you add both their salaries, tack on 30 percent for federal benefits, the two Faucis every year at taxpayer expense, clean off more than $900,000 a year. We found the golden parachute retirement plan and estimated his pension will be the largest in federal history. Now here’s what’s important. Point four, right? All of that information we didn’t get from Fauci’s employer at the National Institutes of Health. If it was up to NIH, we wouldn’t even know what the Faucis are making. We had to file requests with other federal agencies to get that information.
Mr. Jekielek: And what about these other documents that are outstanding?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, we’re going to learn a lot more. For instance, there’s a 1913 law that’s on the books. It’s called the Gillett Amendment. It bars the bureaucrat from being the publicity man. So did Dr. Fauci, did he get a legal opinion on his 400, we know he did 400 media events in the first 18 months of the pandemic? Did he get a legal opinion on whether or not he was violating the Gillett Amendment? I mean, how did he have any time to follow the science when you’re doing 400 media events in 18 months? It’s an incredible amount of media.
He received in February of 2021 a $1 million prize from a foundation in Israel expressly for “speaking truth to power.” Okay. Is that evidence that Fauci violated the Gillett Amendment? These are open legal questions, his contract and his job description would shed light on whether or not PR, public relations is actually a part of his job description. If it’s not a part of his job description, there needs to be further legal investigation here.
Mr. Jekielek: But then again, there’s also all sorts of other officials in the government that may require the same kind of oversight, right?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, look, the size of the executive federal agencies, even during the Trump years, grew in the four years of Trump. And I know he promised to drain the swamp, but he failed in the promise. For the first three years to be fair, he held the head counts in the 122 executive agencies roughly flat. There was only a slight increase. But when COVID hit and Congress threw trillions of dollars and grew the agencies, the final head count in the Trump years grew by 50,000 positions in the federal executive agencies. So look, there needs to be a lot of oversight at every level. And Congress, quite frankly, isn’t doing their job. At OpenTheBooks.com, our auditing team we’re taking on the responsibility of Congress to give that robust oversight.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. Well, I know I’m going to be looking at OpenTheBooks.com as we do on our team, not all the time, but we see it as a very valuable resource to go to when we have these sorts of questions. And so any final thoughts?
Mr. Andrzejewski: Well, I just want to welcome everybody to our website, come to OpenTheBooks.com. We can’t complain about Washington DC unless we have good government where we live. And so take a look at what your public officials are making in your school districts, in your municipality, your township, your county at the state level and hold them accountable.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Adam Andrzejewski, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.
Mr. Andrzejewski: Thank you, Jan. Great to be here.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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