FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Fee category litigation heats up

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Obama Administration in FOIA Fees Fight

By Josh Gerstein, POLITICO, May 28, 2015

The Obama Administration is in a legal showdown over claims that officials are using the prospect of sky-high fees to try to block requests for government records under the Freedom of Information Act.

At a court hearing Wednesday, a non-profit research institute based at Syracuse University—the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—complained to a federal judge that the government is arbitrarily denying the organization status as an educational organization and a member of the news media, designations that would allow the group to escape most of the fees that can be charged for FOIA requests.

During almost an hour of arguments on the issue, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper sounded sympathetic to TRAC's claims and, at times, incredulous of the government's position in the case.

"TRAC has been granted preferred status in the past. Why the change?" Cooper asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Marian Borum. "What information is missing? What didn’t they tell you?"

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