Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleCENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2017cv01162
Date Filed2017-06-14
Date Closed2018-09-25
JudgeJudge Christopher R. Cooper
PlaintiffCENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY
Case DescriptionThe Center for Public Integrity submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Election Commission for records concerning the agency's Twitter account. The agency disclosed seven documents and withheld 14 documents. CPI filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. CPI submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning policies for retaining emails of senior officials. The agency indicated that it had found responsive records, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CPI filed suit on both requests.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantFEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Opinion/Order [23]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Christopher Cooper has ruled that the Federal Election Commission properly redacted emails concerning the "@altFEC" Twitter account and emails from EOP.gov under Exemption 5 (privileges). The Center for Public Integrity made a FOIA request to the agency for records referencing the Twitter account. The agency located 21 pages and withheld 14 pages under Exemption 5. CPI made a second FOIA request for emails from the domain EOP.gov sent to the commissioners or senior managers at the agency. The agency located 14 pages and referred them to OMB. OMB suggested redactions under Exemption 5 and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), which were adopted by the FEC. CPI argued that the redactions made under Exemption 5 did not qualify for the deliberative process privilege. The agency explained that the emails "consisted of communications among attorneys at different levels in the FEC's Office of General Counsel working to identify and analyze potential legal issues that the 'altFEC' Twitter account might raise.' In other words, agency lawyers were engaged in a back-and-forth discussion on a specific legal question. 'There can be no doubt that such legal advice, given in the form of intra-agency memoranda prior to any agency decision on the issues involved, fits exactly within the deliberative process rationale for Exemption 5.'" CPI argued that there must be some segregable information in the emails. Cooper noted that "to the extent the Center counters that there must be some non-exempt information that can be released like the names of senders and recipients, the FEC has disclosed that very information in the Vaughn index attached to its reply. . .Requiring the agency to release additional factual information beyond that in the Vaughn index would risk revealing the underlying deliberations themselves." The records withheld by OMB included a meeting agenda. Cooper pointed out that "a meeting agenda prepared before the meeting is necessarily predecisional and inherently deliberative in that staff are suggesting the topics to be discussed in the meeting." Cooper found another email sent by OMB to agency chief information security officers was properly redacted. He observed that "relevant agency experts engaged in a back-and-forth consultation about possibilities for evaluating the manner by which agencies handle data and other forms of information. As such, this email reflects 'recommendations and deliberations comprising part of the process by which government decisions and policies' " such as how to evaluate information resource management " 'are formulated.'"
Issues: Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Predecisional, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-06-141COMPLAINT against FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4991403) filed by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons to the Attorney General, # 4 Summons to the U.S. Attorney)(Smith, Peter) (Entered: 06/14/2017)
2017-06-142LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY (Smith, Peter) Modified on 6/15/2017 (zrdj). (Entered: 06/14/2017)
2017-06-15Case Assigned to Judge Christopher R. Cooper. (sth) (Entered: 06/15/2017)
2017-06-153SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Summons, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons)(sth) (Entered: 06/15/2017)
2017-06-194RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 6/19/2017. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 7/19/2017. (Smith, Peter) (Entered: 06/19/2017)
2017-06-295RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 6/26/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Return Receipt)(Smith, Peter) (Entered: 06/29/2017)
2017-07-126RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION served on 6/23/2017 (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit USPS Tracking Information)(Smith, Peter) (Entered: 07/12/2017)
2017-07-197NOTICE of Appearance by Kevin Deeley on behalf of FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION (Deeley, Kevin) (Entered: 07/19/2017)
2017-07-198NOTICE of Appearance by Harry Jacobs Summers on behalf of FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION (Summers, Harry) (Entered: 07/19/2017)
2017-07-199NOTICE of Appearance by Seth E. Nesin on behalf of FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION (Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 07/19/2017)
2017-07-1910ANSWER to Complaint by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION.(Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 07/19/2017)
2017-08-03MINUTE ORDER: Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. It is hereby ORDERED that the parties promptly confer and file a joint proposed schedule for briefing or disclosure by August 17, 2017. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 8/3/2017. (lccrc1) (Entered: 08/03/2017)
2017-08-04Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Proposed Briefing Schedule due by 8/17/2017 (lsj) (Entered: 08/04/2017)
2017-08-0411PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE re Order, by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 08/04/2017)
2017-08-30MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' Joint Meet and Confer Statement and Proposed Schedule, it is hereby ORDERED that: Defendants motion for summary judgment is due on or before September 7, 2017; Plaintiffs opposition and cross-motion, if any, is due on or before September 28, 2017; Defendants consolidated reply and opposition is due on or before October 19, 2017; and Plaintiffs reply is due on or before November 2, 2017. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 8/30/2017. (lccrc1) (Entered: 08/30/2017)
2017-08-31Set/Reset Deadlines: Summary Judgment motions due by 9/7/2017. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 9/28/2017. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 10/19/2017. Replies due by 11/2/2017. (lsj) (Entered: 08/31/2017)
2017-09-0712MOTION for Summary Judgment , Memorandum, and Statement of Material Facts Not in Genuine Dispute by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Katie A. Higginbothom, # 2 Declaration of Seth Nesin, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 09/07/2017)
2017-09-2813Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Smith, Peter) (Entered: 09/28/2017)
2017-09-2814Memorandum in opposition to re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment , Memorandum, and Statement of Material Facts Not in Genuine Dispute filed by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY. (Smith, Peter) (Entered: 09/28/2017)
2017-09-2815MOTION for Order for in Camera Review by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Smith, Peter) (Entered: 09/28/2017)
2017-10-1216Memorandum in opposition to re 13 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Reply in Support of FEC's Motion for Summary Judgment filed by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B)(Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 10/12/2017)
2017-10-1217Memorandum in opposition to re 15 MOTION for Order for in Camera Review filed by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 10/12/2017)
2017-10-1218REPLY to opposition to motion re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment , Memorandum, and Statement of Material Facts Not in Genuine Dispute filed by FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. (See Docket Entry 16 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 10/13/2017)
2017-10-1919REPLY to opposition to motion re 15 MOTION for Order for in Camera Review filed by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY. (Smith, Peter) (Entered: 10/19/2017)
2017-11-0220REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY. (Smith, Peter) (Entered: 11/02/2017)
2018-04-0221NOTICE of Change of Address by Seth E. Nesin (Nesin, Seth) (Entered: 04/02/2018)
2018-09-1822ORDER granting 12 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, denying 13 Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and denying 15 Plaintiff's Motion for In Camera Review. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 09/18/2018. (lccrc1) (Entered: 09/18/2018)
2018-09-1823MEMORANDUM OPINION re: 22 Order granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, denying Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and denying Plaintiff's Motion for In Camera Review. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 09/18/2018. (lccrc1) (Entered: 09/18/2018)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff
Skip to toolbar