FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on FOIA and Clinton's Private Server

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Clinton’s Information Lockdown

By L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2016

Lyndon Johnson did his best to block the Freedom of Information Act, but public opinion forced him to make government records available. The question now is how FOIA, which LBJ signed 50 years ago this month, survives the precedent Hillary Clinton set with her basement server intended to keep her emails hidden from public view.

Bill Moyers, LBJ’s press secretary at the time, recalled in a 2003 broadcast how FOIA nearly didn’t become law: The president “hated the very idea of a Freedom of Information Act, hated the idea of journalists rummaging in government closets, hated them challenging the official view of reality.”

LBJ relented and signed what he called “the damned thing” on July 4, 1966, but insisted on no fanfare. In the decades that followed, FOIA became an essential tool for government accountability.

No public official since LBJ has gone as far as Hillary Clinton to evade public-disclosure laws. In 2010 her adviser Huma Abedin recommended that she use a government email account, as the State Department required. “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible,” Mrs. Clinton responded in an email that has since come to light. She used a private email server for all her communications because this kept both official and personal communications off government servers, where they would have been subject to disclosure under FOIA.

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