FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Trump's tax records off limits, rules D.C. Circuit

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

A Washington, D.C. Circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday requesting access to President Donald Trump’s tax records.

By Virginia Kuta, Daily Caller, Dec. 18, 2018

Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson, who was appointed a United States Circuit judge by the late President George H.W. Bush in 1990, dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The lawsuit followed EPIC’s two attempts to first obtain the records through the IRS shortly after the 2016 election. After the request and a subsequent appeal were denied, EPIC filed the FOIA lawsuit to compel the IRS to release the records.

Read more here.

Copy of decision here.

FOIA News: APA might save the day for failed 9th Circuit case

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Ninth Circuit May Revive Suit to Restore USDA Animal-Welfare Portal

Helen Christophi, Courthouse News Serv., Dec. 17, 2018

The Ninth Circuit on Monday signaled it will likely revive a public-records lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture which seeks to restore online access to animal welfare compliance records which was removed two years ago over privacy concerns.

During a hearing in San Francisco, the court’s three-judge panel seemed to agree animal-rights groups can’t win back online access to the records under the Freedom of Information Act. But two judges suggested the plaintiffs can sue for them under a separate statute that allows for judicial review of decisions by federal agencies.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Government FOIA jobs available

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Gov’t Inf. Specialist, USDA, Washington, D.C. (closes 12/16)

FOIA Specialist, U.S. Air Force, New Mexico (closes 12/17)

Supervisory Gov’t Inf. Specialist, HHS, Washington D.C. (closes 12/18)

General Attorney (FOIA), Dep’t of Educ., Washington, D.C. (closes 12/18)

Gov’t Inf. Specialist, CFPB, Washington, D.C. (closes 12/18)

Ass’t Disclosure Officer, Secret Service, Washington, D.C. (closes 12/19)

Gov’t Inf. Specialist, U.S. Air Force, Wyoming (closes 12/21)

Supervisory Gov’t Inf. Specialist, DHS/CIS, Missouri (closes 12/24)

Gov’t Inf. Specialist, Bureau of Ocean Energy Mgmt., Washington, D.C. (closes 12/26)

Court opinions issued Dec. 14, 2018

Court Opinions (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Jordan v. U.S. Dep't of Labor (W.D. Mo.) -- dismissing part of plaintiff’s lawsuit concerning records that are subject of plaintiff’s concurrent FOIA lawsuit in U.S. District Court for District of Columbia.

Rodriguez v. FBI (D.D.C.) -- ruling on renewed summary judgment motions that Criminal Division performed adequate search for records concerning plaintiff’s criminal case, and that the Criminal Division and Executive Office for United States properly withheld records pursuant to Exemptions 5, 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(F).

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

FOIA News: OGIS announces dispute resolution training

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Dispute Resolution Training for Agencies

Nat’l Archives & Records Admin., FOIA Ombudsman, Dec. 12, 2018

Are you looking for a unique training opportunity for your agency’s FOIA staff, one that will improve communications within your FOIA program and with FOIA requesters? If so, now is a great time to schedule 2019 Dispute Resolution Training for FOIA Professionals for your agency.

OGIS offers our training program twice yearly to any interested FOIA professional, and those sessions fill up as quickly as they are announced. Additionally, we offer training sessions to individual agencies as our schedule allows. This free, daylong training session helps FOIA professionals develop valuable communication skills for preventing and resolving FOIA disputes. Attendees also learn strategies for working with difficult people and ways to collaborate with OGIS to resolve FOIA disputes that seem intractable. These skills and strategies help attendees improve their interactions with FOIA requesters as well as colleagues within their agencies.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Dep't of the Interior political appointee named Chief FOIA Officer

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Former Koch adviser to oversee Interior Department’s FOIA requests

Miranda Green, The Hill, Dec. 10, 2018

A political appointee and former adviser to Charles and David Koch will oversee Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent to the Interior Department, a position typically held by career staff.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last month quietly issued a secretarial order giving Daniel Jorjani the authority to oversee all FOIA requests at the agency, according to a document obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

Jorjani, who Zinke previously appointed as principal deputy solicitor and who has been serving as acting solicitor, will serve as chief FOIA officer, according to the Nov. 20 decree. Trump never submitted a formal nomination for a solicitor at the agency.

Read more here.

FOIA News: More on Lamberth's lambasting of State and Justice departments

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Good Faith or Bad?

Susan McGuire Smith, FedSmith, Dec. 10, 2018

The court indicated once discovery ends, Judge Lamberth will then see if [the court] “can rule out egregious government misconduct…” (Opinion p. 9)

This scathing opinion starts by quoting President Obama’s standard for his new administration’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) issued on his first day as President. In the new President’s policy, he used words like “openness prevails…act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation…agencies are servants of the public…presumption in favor of disclosure…” etc. (Opinion p. 1)

Read more here.