Freedom of Information Act Suits Increase Sharply Under Trump

Since President Donald Trump took office, Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by individuals and organizations seeking federal government information have risen by 26 percent, an overall increase of 70 percent from just five years ago.

This is according to new data released Monday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse’s (TRAC) FOIA Project. The Freedom of Information Act allows those seeking government information to file suit seeking to have their FOIA requests answered if an agency denies the request or fails to respond to it within 20 working days.

TRAC attributes the increase in large part to “the news media and nonprofit advocacy organizations,” and notes that federal officials are concerned about coping with the tidal wave of lawsuits.

TRAC found some 651 FOIA lawsuits filed in fiscal year 2017, an increase from 515 in the same period in 2016. According to the FOIA Project’s data, there were just 382 filed in 2012, the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term in office.

The Department of Justice led the pack in terms of receiving the most FOIA lawsuits in FY 2017, facing 197 lawsuits, a 20 percent bump from 2016. After DOJ was the Department of Homeland Security, with 98 lawsuits, a 46 percent increase. Read more…