FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Media requests to EPA spike under Trump

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

EXCLUSIVE: Media Requests for EPA Records Soar Under Trump

By Kevin Mooney, Daily Signal, July 22, 2019

Major news outlets, seemingly more prone to investigative reporting in the Trump era, are much more aggressive in seeking records from the Environmental Protection Agency than they were in the final years of the Obama administration, The Daily Signal has learned.

ABC News, CBS News, the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico are among 20 news organizations showing a large increase in Freedom of Information Act requests, according to EPA numbers obtained by The Daily Signal. 

Read more here.

[ALB comment: We’ve seen this story before, per Washington Free Beacon.]

FOIA News: Senators ask EPA to reconsider FOIA regs

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Senators Leahy, Grassley, Feinstein, And Cornyn Raise Concerns About EPA’s FOIA Rule

…Senators Ask EPA To Reconsider FOIA Rule Or Provide Sufficient Opportunity For Public Comment And Transition Period

Press Release, Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy

(MONDAY, July 22, 2019) — Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) – all senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with exclusive jurisdiction over the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – sent a bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler raising serious concerns with the EPA’s recent “FOIA Regulations Update” final rule, asking him to reconsider the rule or provide sufficient opportunity for the American public to comment on it and additional transition time to ensure public awareness.

Read more here.

FOIA News: More on SCOTUS Ex. 4 decision

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

U.S. Supreme Court Broadens FOIA Exemption 4 for ‘Confidential’ Materials

By Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Nat’l L. Rev. July 22, 2019

On June 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media expanded the Freedom of Information Act’s (FOIA) Exemption 4, excluding from disclosure pursuant to a FOIA request material containing “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(4).

Read more here.

Court opinions issued July 18, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Charnock v. Barr (D.D.C.) -- determining that DOJ’s Civil Rights Division performed adequate search for records concerning plaintiff’s disability complaint against the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Silbaugh v. Acosta (W.D. Wash.) -- ruling that plaintiff’s discovery request concerning Department of Labor’s search was premature because agency had yet not filed affidavits or declarations.

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

Court opinions issued July 15, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Animal Welfare Inst. v. USDA (W.D.N.Y. ) -- concluding that: (1) plaintiff’s “reading room” claim regarding non-compliance records was sufficient to survive motion to dismiss; and (2) agency failed to show that transferring venue to District of Columbia was warranted.

Ctr. for Pub. Integrity v. Dep’t of Energy (D.D.C.) -- ordering parties to re-brief applicability of Exemption 4 to contractors’ nuclear testing site records in light of Supreme Court’s decision in Argus Leader, and to provide additional briefing on applicability of consultant corollary theory to withhold records pursuant to Exemption 5.

Ctr. for Popular Democracy v. Bd. of Governors of Fed. Reserve Sys. (E.D.N.Y.) -- ruling that agency failed to conduct adequate search for records concerning Board and Reserve Bank leadership, and upholding agency’s uncontested withholdings pursuant to Exemptions 5 and 6.

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

FOIA News: DeVos under investigation for use of personal email

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats

By Kimberly Hefling, Politico, July 15, 2019

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said Monday that he is expanding an investigation into the use of personal email by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Cummings told DeVos in a letter that his move came after "disturbing new revelations" released by the Education Department's inspector general in May about how DeVos had used personal email while on the job.

Read more here.