FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Senate keeps CFTC in check

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Grassley Wins Fight for Transparency in CFTC Reauthorization

By A.J. Taylor, KIOW Radio, Apr. 17, 2016

During consideration yesterday of the reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Senator Chuck Grassley fought to ensure that data compiled by the commission remained subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) while maintaining adequate protections currently in place.  An amendment he introduced with Senator Patrick Leahy was included in the reauthorization bill.  The amendment prevented the CFTC’s FOIA exemptions from going beyond what is necessary, since FOIA already protects against the release of trade secrets and certain commercial or financial information.

“FOIA was enacted to increase government transparency.  And transparency yields accountability,” Grassley said.  “FOIA already strikes a proper balance between the public’s right to know and the government’s need to protect certain information.  But special interests wanted to give the CFTC additional, nearly carte blanche authority to fully exempt certain information from public accountability through FOIA.  That was unacceptable to Senator Leahy and me.  We appreciate Chairman Roberts including our amendment.”

The Judiciary Committee, where Grassley and Leahy are the Chairman and Ranking Member respectively, has jurisdiction over the Freedom of Information Act.  Last year under Grassley’s leadership, the committee passed the FOIA Improvement Act which requires the government to adopt a “presumption of openness” when processing requests for government records via the Freedom of Information Act.  The bill recently cleared the Senate, but is awaiting action by the House of Representatives.