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FOIA News: Court dismisses futile request for Trump's tax returns

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Federal court can't force IRS to release Trump's tax returns

By Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, August 18, 2017

A federal judge on Friday said that the court could not compel the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) launched a suit against the IRS earlier this year after the agency refused to hand over the documents as part of an open-records request.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EPIC had sought Trump’s personal tax returns from 2010 to the present day and any documents that may reveal financial relationships with the Russian government or Russian businesses.

However, personal tax forms are confidential. They can only be obtained if Trump himself gave the IRS permission to reveal the returns or if Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation signed off to allow the disclosure.

Read more here.  

FOIA News: Court dismisses futile request for Trump's tax returns

Allan BlutsteinComment

Federal court can't force IRS to release Trump's tax returns

By Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, August 18, 2017

A federal judge on Friday said that the court could not compel the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) launched a suit against the IRS earlier this year after the agency refused to hand over the documents as part of an open-records request.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EPIC had sought Trump’s personal tax returns from 2010 to the present day and any documents that may reveal financial relationships with the Russian government or Russian businesses.

However, personal tax forms are confidential. They can only be obtained if Trump himself gave the IRS permission to reveal the returns or if Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation signed off to allow the disclosure.

Read more here.  

Court opinions issued Aug. 16, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Parker v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- ruling that attachment to already-produced letter was responsive record even though it pertained to subject unrelated to request;  further ruling that Exemptions 5 and 7(C) protected portion of document addressing reasons for employee's discipline but not agency's disciplinary procedures or information in public domain.

Labow v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (D.D.C.) -- finding that FBI properly withheld disputed records pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with Pen Register Act and Rule 6(e) of Federal Rule Criminal Procedure.

Cornucopia Inst. v. Agric. Mktg. Serv. (D.D.C.) -- determining that agency conducted adequate search for certain investigatory records concerning organically-produced agricultural products and that it properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption5 and 7(C).

Legal Landmark Found. v. Dep't of Labor (D.D.C.) -- holding that plaintiff was precluded by collateral estoppel from bringing suit seeking records "evincing the use of" improper private electronic communications by certain agency employees, because same request to different agency was found by court to be inadequately described.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.  

FOIA News: GOP Governors Use FOIA Against CFPB

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Republican governors serve CFPB director with FOIA demands

Joe Mont, Compliance Week, Aug. 16, 2017

Turning up the heat on Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Republican governors have served him with another Freedom of Information Act Request.

On Aug. 15, the Republican Governors Association filed their second FOIA for records related to Cordray’s “potential violation of the Hatch Act while exploring a run for Ohio Governor.”

The request, they say, “ follows revelations that Mr. Cordray actively discussed the Ohio governor’s race with the chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.” The initial FOIA request, on Aug. 1, FOIA follows one the RGA submitted on Aug. 1, requested information and communication relating to Cordray’s activity surrounding a potential run.

Read more here.

FOIA News: FOIA Lawsuit Filed Over DOJ Data That May Not Even Exist

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

FOIA Lawsuit Filed Over DOJ Data Complainant Is Pretty Sure Doesn't Even Exist

Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt, Aug. 17, 2017

Benjamin Wittes of the Lawfare blog has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ, hoping to force the government to put its documents where the president's mouth is. [h/t Pwn All The Things]

Back in February, President Trump made the following assertion before a joint Congressional session:

“According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”

But what data? That's what Wittes is seeking. As he pointed out in April, it appears the president generated this assertion completely out of firing synapses and airborne vibrations.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Suit demands visitor logs for parts of White House

FOIA News (2017)Kevin SchmidtComment

Suit demands visitor logs for parts of White House

By Josh Gerstein, Politico, Aug. 17, 2017

A new lawsuit is demanding public access visitor logs for several agencies located in the White House complex and contends that the Secret Service is illegally turning those records over to White House officials not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The suit does not seek information on visitors to the core offices of the White House, which includes senior advisers to President Donald Trump who work in the West Wing as well as several administrative offices serving the president's staff. A series of court rulings have held that those visitor logs are presidential records not covered by FOIA, but accessible through presidential libraries years after a president leaves office.

Instead, the case filed Thursday by public interest group Public Citizen seeks records of visitors to four agencies housed in the White House complex but with independent legal duties: the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality.

Read more here.