FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Comey's friend sues State Dep't for Mar-a-Lago-related records

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Comey friend sues State Dept. for records on article promoting Mar-a-Lago

By Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill, Feb. 21, 2018

Benjamin Wittes, the editor of Lawfare blog and a prominent friend of former FBI Director James Comey, is suing the State Department for records on its promotion of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Wittes states in the suit that he requested the records on Mar-a-Lago through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May of last year. He says the State Department acknowledged the request, but has not otherwise responded.

Read more here.

FOIA News: HUD OIG amends FOIA regulations

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General issued a final rule appearing in today's Federal Register that revises the agency's FOIA regulations. The amendments will align OIG's regulations with that of the Department's (which were revised in January 2017), implement the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, and explain the office's FOIA policies and practices.  The amended regulation will take effect on March 23, 2018.

FOIA News: Can Courts Handle The Increased FOIA Strain Under Trump?

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Can Courts Handle The Increased FOIA Strain Under Trump?

By Bryan Koenig, Law360, Feb. 16, 2018

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton found himself in a difficult position last month, caught between the obligation for a speedy government response to a Freedom of Information Act request and the strain federal agencies and courts are under as FOIA litigation surges under the Trump administration.

Congress, the D.C. federal judge said from the bench, has required agencies to produce documents at a reasonable clip but lawmakers only give limited resources to accomplish the task. 

Read more here (subscription required)

FOIA News: Here's the Time the EPA Used Duct Tape to Redact a FOIA Request

FOIA News (2018)Kevin SchmidtComment

Here's the Time the EPA Used Duct Tape to Redact a FOIA Request

By CJ Ciaramella, Reason, Feb. 16, 2018

I've seen a lot of weird Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) redactions. I've seen redacted complaints about Amtrak snack cars and the CIA cafeteria. I've seen pictures of FBI retirement parties where all the faces were replaced by blank squares, resulting in an oddly artistic tableau.

But duct tape is a new one.

Chris Horner, a longtime FOIA requester and litigator, tweeted out pictures today of a set of emails he received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in 2015.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Office of America Innovation sued for ignoring FOIA requests

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

JARED KUSHNER’S OFFICE SUED FOR LACKING TRANSPARENCY ON INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN ‘RIPE FOR CRONYISM,’ COMPLAINANT SAYS

By Jessica Kwong , Newsweek, Feb. 16, 2018

The Office of American Innovation, led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been sued for allegedly attempting to skirt federal transparency laws while shaping the administration’s infrastructure policy.

The nonprofits Democracy Forward and Food & Water Watch filed the lawsuit Thursday after the Kushner-led office “ignored” Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The organizations made FOIA requests to see whether policy-making was being improperly influenced by conflicts of interest within the Trump administration, Food & Water Watch senior staff attorney Zachary Corrigan told Newsweek.

Read more here.

FOIA News: APHIS launches site for frequently requested records

FOIA News (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

APHIS Launches Webpage for Frequently Requested Records

By USDA/APHIS, Feb. 16, 2018

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is launching a new “Frequently Requested Records” page on our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) e-reading room, in accordance with the FOIA statute. The new page will contain copies of frequently requested records, making it easier for our stakeholders to find information. 

On the new page, we will post copies of FOIA-processed records that have been requested and released three or more times.  We will also post items we believe are likely to be requested multiple times.  Finally, on this page, APHIS may in its discretion also post records that it believes are of interest to the public, regardless of a legal requirement to do so.  The page is searchable by keyword or program.  APHIS will continue to update this page on a monthly basis.

Read more here.