FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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December 17, 2014 5:09 PM

This week Citizens United sued the State Department in federal court over its unlawful withholding of documents relating to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

We are currently in pre-production for a sequel to our landmark film Hillary: The Movie. This film will take a hard look at Hillary Clinton’s career and will tell the truth about her failed record as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.

We’ve filed numerous Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests for documents relating to Hillary’s time at the State Department. These requests have gone largely unanswered. What is the State Department trying to hide? Why won’t the Obama Administration prioritize transparency when it comes to taxpayer-funded public documents? The public has a right to know – yes, even if it is about Hillary Clinton. Continue>>> 

December 16, 2014 12:37 PM

The Obama administration has urged a court to reject a request to disclose thousands of pages of documents from a Justice Department investigation into the torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency, including summaries of interviews with about 100 witnesses and documents explaining why in the end no charges were filed.

The administration made the filing late Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by The New York Times, hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 524-page executive summary of its own investigation into C.I.A. torture. The committee based its report on a review of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews.

The Justice Department materials, the court filing revealed, include 10 reports and memorandums totaling 1,719 pages — more than three times the number of pages in the Senate report released Tuesday — as well as “numerous” pages of reports on interviews with current and former C.I.A. officials. Continue>>>
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December 10, 2014 10:40 AM

The Port of Olympia commission voted Monday night to move forward with a final settlement agreement covering three lawsuits, two of which were filed against the port nearly eight years ago.

The lawsuits were filed by Arthur West of Olympia, an open government advocate who sued the port twice in 2007 and once in 2012, according to port data.

Commissioner Sue Gunn was absent Monday, so commissioners Bill McGregor and George Barner approved a plan to have executive director Ed Galligan “execute a final settlement agreement consistent with terms previously discussed in executive sessions.” Continue>>>

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December 5, 2014 11:39 AM

A long awaited Senate report on the CIA’s former “enhanced interrogation" techniques could be out by Monday.

Vice News reported Jason Leopold, who has a longstanding Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Obama administration over the so-called “torture report,” tweeted on Wednesday that the report should be out at the beginning of next week.

“Senate report on CIA interrogation program will be released MONDAY, govt atty just told my atty in my #FOIA case for the rpt,” he tweeted. Continue>>>
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December 5, 2014 11:21 AM

Once again, failure to follow the Freedom of Information Act, failure to provide responsive public records to the person requesting the records.

This is the 7th FOIA civil suit against Arcola Township.

You can read it below, but the main problem is that Arcola Township thinks they can do as they please, the law be damned. Continue>>>
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December 2, 2014 1:45 PM

An advocate for the disabled has sued the Cuomo administration for detailed disclosures about crimes against disabled individuals in state care and is questioning why thousands of calls to the state's abuse hotline didn't lead to investigations.

The suit filed last week in state court cited data from the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs showing that of more than 70,000 calls in the hotline's first 11 months, only 1,402 were assigned to its investigators. Another 7,572 cases were referred back to state agencies that provide services and contract with nonprofits.

The suit by the Jonathan Carey Foundation claims the data provided under New York's Freedom of Information Law after months of delays omitted details about crimes. The filing also asks why almost 90 percent of the reports were not assigned for investigation. Continue>>>
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December 2, 2014 11:40 AM

The Department of Defense has until Wednesday under a federal court order to produce information on a contracting program that critics say has been harmful to small businesses while benefitting large defense firms.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California issued a ruling last week in favor of the American Small Business League, an advocacy group, in its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Pentagon. Alsup ordered the Pentagon to release documents on Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation’s participation in the DOD’s Comprehensive Small Business Subcontracting Plan.

This could set a far-reaching precedent, ASBL spokesman Steve Godfrey told TheBlaze, even though for now it affects just one of the contractors. Continue>>>
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December 1, 2014 2:31 PM

The recent news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed surprised some people. That they will now be sorted, cataloged and released provokes mixed reactions. It has some Republicans upset that more wasn’t done and more transparently. It has some Democrats upset that more money is being spent on what some see as a witch hunt that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption. Despite the 18 months of dissembling about who did what and when, the latter reaction may be premature.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has confirmed that, on top of the backed-up email horde, there are also nearly 2,500 documents relating to investigations of the improper disclosure of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. Yes, the White House.

Why should the White House be getting confidential taxpayer information? That is a good question. If the facts show such data was transmitted, even under the most charitable interpretation, you would think every American would want to know what happened. Continue>>>
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November 18, 2014 11:17 AM

Watchdog group Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Administration in October, in order to obtain records relating to media monitoring plan records.

More specifically, the FOIA is against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and relates to a “Critical Information Needs” (CIN) pilot study conducted by the government agency. The study revolved around how media outlets make editorial decisions when covering stories.

The FCC's Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs study, announced in May 2013, had a stated purpose to analyse the "access/barriers to CINs in diverse American communities … with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations." Continue>>>
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November 18, 2014 11:14 AM

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does not have to release records about its supervision of Wall Street's arbitration process to a group of investors' lawyers, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ends, at least for now, a long-running battle about the public's right of access to documents about the SEC's oversight over the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's arbitration system.

FINRA, the Wall Street industry-funded watchdog, runs the arbitration forum where investors and brokerages must resolve their legal disputes. The SEC oversees and examines FINRA, which is a private organization. Continue>>>

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November 7, 2014 11:23 AM

New York's Southern District Court -- which has been hosting (along with the Second Circuit Appeals Court) the ACLU and New York Times' long-running, concurrent FOIA lawsuits against the government over its drone killing memos -- has reached a partial decision on some of the embattled documents.

The court's decision was actually delivered on Sept. 30th, but its conclusion and order have spent the last month under seal while the government applied its redactions. An accompanying memo from the presiding judge [pdf link] notes that the court isn't buying all the government's redaction arguments.

Indeed, page 9 of the order [pdf link] leaves almost everything to the imagination, retaining only a single sentence that really makes you wish the court hadn't deferred to the government's judgement. Continue>>> 

July 3, 2014 10:36 PM

The Fort Smith city clerk and four members of the city board of directors are accused of violating the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Sebastian County Circuit Court.

City Clerk Sherri Gard is accused of individually polling Directors Keith Lau, George Catsavis and Kevin Settle after Ward 3 Director Mike Lorenz contacted her to remove items from the June 17 and July 1 directors’ meeting agendas, in the complaint.

On June 3, At-Large Director Philip Merry requested a discussion seeking a three-year audit of the city’s legal contract with the law firm Daily & Woods be placed on agenda for the directors’ June 10 study session. At-Large Director Pam Weber seconded the move, and the item was placed on the agenda. Continue>>>
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