FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: D.C. Circuit asked to compel search of White House employee's personal email account

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Hidden Government Emails at the Epicenter of FOIA Lawsuit

Competitive Enterprise News Release, Aug. 10, 2015

In a lawsuit involving more hidden correspondence by government officials, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on Monday filed the opening brief in its appeal of a court ruling that put the personal email account of the White House top science advisor, John Holdren, off-limits to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“There are a growing number of scandals concerning the use of private email accounts by top Obama administration officials,” said Sam Kazman, CEI general counsel. “The court ruling that we are appealing will only add to those scandals, because it legitimizes private email accounts as way to evade FOIA. While President Obama claims his administration is the most transparent in history, his officers seem to confuse being transparent with being invisible.”

CEI argues that FOIA applies to the work-related records of agency employees regardless of where they are stored.  Many agencies routinely instruct their staff to preserve any such documents that they might have on their personal email accounts.  In CEI’s case, however, John Holdren, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) either missed the memo or refused to issue it.

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