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FOIA News: The Mystery of the FTC's Non-Governmental Email Account

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

The existence of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) private email account ftcexchange.com was flagged by Nate Jones on May 12, 2015 in FTC documents released to MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave. The email account "jbumpus@ftcexchange.com" (for FTC's Director of Congressional Relations Jeanne Bumpus) was used to communicate with Senator Rockefeller's staff regarding the FTC's opposition to the FOIA reform bill. 

As Katherine Hawkins of Open The Government noted, at least the FTC may have searched the account in response to a FOIA request.

A review of records the FTC released to the Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins on May 1, 2015 reveals 3 other FTC employees that used email addresses at ftcexchange.com. 

  • Henry Su, Attorney Adviser, Office of Chairwoman Edith Ramirez (hsu@ftcexchange.com)
  • Katia Barron, Honors Paralegal, Office of Chairwoman Edith Ramirez (kbarron1@ftcexchange.com)
  • Shaundra Watson, Counsel for International Consumer Protection, Office of International Affairs (swatson@ftcexchange.com)

A WHOis search of ftcexchange.com shows that the domain was registered on May 2, 2014 through GoDaddy and renewed on May 2, 2015.

The email account raised the ire of a coalition of transparency groups. MuckRock News, Cause of Action, and National Security Counselors sent a joint FOIA request (embedded at the bottom of the post) to the FTC on May 22, 2015 for "access to all records referring or relating to, but not maintained or hosted on, the domain name ftcexchange.com."

Stay tuned.