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PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE and 12 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on August 24th, 2017

We have added 60 documents from 9 FOIA cases filed between August 13, 2017 and August 19, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE (filed Aug 17, 2017)
    Public Citizen submitted three FOIA requests to the U.S. Secret Service for records concerning visitors’ logs for visitors to four agencies within the White House complex that are subject to FOIA �” OMB, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Council on Environmental Quality. In response to Public Citizen’s first request, the Secret Service denied access, telling Public Citizen that the records were not agency records subject to FOIA, but instead were presidential records subject to the Presidential Records Act. Public Citizen filed an administrative appeal, arguing that the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Judicial Watch v. Secret Service had held that visitors’ logs for White House components subject to FOIA were not presidential records. The Secret Service denied Public Citizen’s administrative appeal on the basis that the records were presidential records, not agency records. Public Citizen submitted two more requests for the records, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Public Citizen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Sierra Club v. Department of Energy (filed Aug 14, 2017)
    The Sierra Club submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Energy for records concerning a study of wholesale markets and reliability requested by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Sierra Club that it would begin processing its request. After several email exchanges concerning the status of its request did not provide any further progress, the Sierra Club filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (filed Aug 15, 2017)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Trade Commission for records concerning communications with the House Government Oversight Committee pertaining to an FTC Docket for LabMD, Inc. Cause of Action Institute also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied COA’s request for a fee waiver. The agency located 33 pages responsive to the second part of COA’s request. It withheld some pages under the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, as well as Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). The agency then denied COA’s request for a fee waiver. COA filed an administrative appeal of the agency’s denial of its request for a fee waiver as well as the exemptions claims made by the agency. The agency upheld its denial of COA’s request for a fee waiver, finding that because COA was involved in the LabMD litigation it had a commercial purpose for requesting the records. The agency then told COA that it had found 1.5 GB of materials and would disclose those portions that were not exempt. The agency continued with its earlier exemption claims and added claims under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 3 (other statutes). COA filed an administrative appeal of the second round of exemption claims. The agency upheld its decision on appeal. COA then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Aug 15, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning emails containing West Bank country-of-origin marking requirements sent between the agency and ten organizations that had criticized Israel’s policies. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Aug 15, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning emails sent from the State Department to ten organizations that had criticized Israel’s policies pertaining to protections for Israel in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. Payne v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs et al (filed Aug 15, 2017)
    Marcus Payne, a disabled veteran, was involved in litigation with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the IRS. He requested information that would normally be available through a subpoena. When the agencies did not provide the records, he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  7. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Aug 16, 2017)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the FBI and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys for records concerning Roger Ailes and Fox News. Property of the People and Shapiro also requested inclusion in the news media or educational institution fee category. The FBI acknowledged receipt of the request and told Property of the People and Shapiro that the agency had placed them in the general fee category. Property of the People and Shapiro filed an administrative appeal with the Office of Information Policy challenging the FBI’s fee category determination. OIP acknowledged receipt of the appeal. EOUSA also acknowledged receipt of the request submitted by Property of the People and Shapiro. After hearing nothing further from either component, Property of the People and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. WESTERN VALUES PROJECT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Aug 17, 2017)
    The Western Values Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel for records concerning any request or effort to revisit, rescind, amend, or revoke a 2000 OLC opinion entitled Administration of Coral Reef Resources in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. Western Values Project submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning communications with OLC and John Yoo and Todd Gaziano concerning presidential authority to revoke or reduce national monument designations. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. However, after hearing nothing further on either request, Western Values Project filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET et al (filed Aug 17, 2017)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to OMB and the Council on Environmental Quality for records concerning visitors’ logs, phone logs, and the directors’ appointment calendars. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agencies, Property of the People and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 4 documents from 4 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. Zhirovetskiy v. Zayo Group, LLC (filed Aug 11, 2017)
  2. RICHARDSON v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (filed Jul 31, 2017)
  3. ELLIOTT v. EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY (filed Jul 24, 2017)
  4. ELLIOTT v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (filed Jul 24, 2017)

From → FOIA, PACER

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