Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleCAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2018cv00340
Date Filed2018-02-13
Date Closed2019-03-19
JudgeJudge Amy Berman Jackson
PlaintiffCAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER
Case DescriptionCampaign Legal Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records pertaining to President Trump's allegations of voter fraud. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency disclosed some records, including an email chain describing the creation of what became the presidential advisory commission on voter integrity. However, the names of the authors and recipients of emails were redacted under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). CLC filed an administrative appeal, arguing that since the names had now become public through media accounts, they should now be disclosed. The Office of Information Policy denied CLC's appeal, and CLC filed suit.

DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Complaint attachment 6
Complaint attachment 7
Complaint attachment 8
Complaint attachment 9
Opinion/Order [21]
FOIA Project Annotation: Amy Berman Jackson has ruled that the public interest in knowing the identities of three individuals named in emails pertaining to the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity outweighs their de minimis privacy interests under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and should be disclosed in response to a FOIA request from the Campaign Legal Center. CLC submitted a request to the Office of Information Policy in February 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump had made allegations of massive voter fraud. The Commission was created by Executive Order in May 2017 and disbanded in January 2018 after 44 states had refused to provide the requested data on voter registration. OIP completed its search for records responsive to CLC's request, locating six pages, including an email chain, which was redacted under Exemption 6. CLC filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. After CLC filed suit, OIP reconsidered its withholding and released the names of two individuals identified in the email chain " Hans von Spakovsky, who authored the original email and was identified as the Manager for the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, and Ed Haden, identified as a private attorney who previously worked for former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). In the email, von Spakovsky appeared to be lobbying for a position on the committee for himself and Haden. But OIP continued to argue that the others identified in the email chain had a privacy interest that outweighed any public interest in disclosure. Jackson agreed that based on D.C. Circuit precedent, the other individuals had more than a de minimis privacy interest, necessitating an exploration of the public interest in disclosure. OIP contended that since there was no evidence that von Spakosky's email was acted upon CLC had failed to show a sufficient public interest in disclosure. But Jackson pointed out that "but FOIA does not require the plaintiff to prove that the information was 'acted upon.' The operative question is whether disclosure would advance FOIA's purpose of helping members of the public stay informed about 'what their government is up to.'" She explained that "given the public interest in the formation of the Commission, and the fact that von Spakovsky's appointment followed the transmittal of the email, there is a public interest in knowing who he asked to weigh in that outweighs the individual's weak privacy interest in shielding that information." She found the public interest in disclosure also outweighed the minimal privacy interests of the other two individuals as well, noting that "the public has an interest in knowing who may have attempted to influence the appointment process, and whether the [unidentified individuals were] ultimately named a Commissioner or added to the Administration." The agency also withheld a notation on von Spakosky's travel plans under Exemption 6. Jackson agreed with the agency that this information was protected under Exemption 6, observing that "von Spakovsky has a privacy interest in his personal travel plans and disclosure of his schedule or destination would reveal nothing about the Government's operations."
Issues: Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-02-131COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5331493) filed by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Civil Cover Sheet, # 7 Summons as to the U.S. Attorney General, # 8 Summons as to the Federal Defendant, # 9 Summons as to the U.S. Attorney)(Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/13/2018)
2018-02-132LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER (Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/13/2018)
2018-02-133MOTION for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice :Attorney Name- Jacob Kenswil, :Firm- Campaign Legal Center, :Address- 1411 K St NW Ste. 1400 Washington DC 20005. Phone No. - 202-868-4799. Fax No. - 202-736-2222 Filing fee $ 100, receipt number 0090-5331542. Fee Status: Fee Paid. by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Jacob Kenswil, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/13/2018)
2018-02-14Case Assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (zsb) (Entered: 02/14/2018)
2018-02-144SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsb) (Entered: 02/14/2018)
2018-02-14MINUTE ORDER granting 3 Motion for Leave of Jacob Kenswil to Appear Pro Hac Vice only upon condition that the lawyer admitted, or at least one member of the lawyer's firm, undergo CM/ECF training, obtain a CM/ECF username and password, and agree to file papers electronically. No court papers will be mailed to any lawyer. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/14/18. (DMK) (Entered: 02/14/2018)
2018-02-205RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 2-16-2018. (Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/20/2018)
2018-02-206RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 2/16/2018. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 3/18/2018. (Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/20/2018)
2018-02-207RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE served on 2/16/2018 (Noti, Adav) (Entered: 02/20/2018)
2018-03-198NOTICE of Appearance by Kristina Ann Wolfe on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Wolfe, Kristina) (Entered: 03/19/2018)
2018-03-199ANSWER to 1 Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Wolfe, Kristina) Modified to add link on 3/20/2018 (znmw). (Entered: 03/19/2018)
2018-03-2010NOTICE of Appearance by Carol Federighi on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Federighi, Carol) (Entered: 03/20/2018)
2018-03-22MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. The requirements of Local Civil Rule 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure appear to be inapplicable. Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of its production of documents to plaintiff, on or before April 19, 2018.Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 03/22/2018. (lcabj3) (Entered: 03/22/2018)
2018-03-2711NOTICE of Appearance by Joseph Evan Borson on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Borson, Joseph) (Entered: 03/27/2018)
2018-04-1712NOTICE of Appearance by Danielle M Lang on behalf of CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER (Lang, Danielle) (Entered: 04/17/2018)
2018-04-1913MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Declaration of Vanessa R. Brinkmann, # 3 Statement of Facts, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Borson, Joseph) (Entered: 04/19/2018)
2018-05-0314Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lang, Danielle) (Entered: 05/03/2018)
2018-05-0315MOTION for Summary Judgment by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lang, Danielle) (Entered: 05/03/2018)
2018-05-0716Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 15 MOTION for Summary Judgment , 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Wolfe, Kristina) (Entered: 05/07/2018)
2018-05-08MINUTE ORDER granting 16 motion for extension of time. Defendant asked to file a single brief for its reply and cross-opposition, and it is the Court's preference and usual practice to call for these pleadings to be combined. Defendant must file its reply, combined with its cross-opposition, supported by a single memorandum of points and authorities, by May 24, 2018. Plaintiff's cross-reply, if any, shall be filed by June 7, 2018. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 05/08/2018. (lcabj3) (Entered: 05/08/2018)
2018-05-2417REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Vanessa R. Brinkmann (Second))(Wolfe, Kristina) (Entered: 05/24/2018)
2018-05-2418Memorandum in opposition to re 15 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration ov Vanessa R. Brinkmann (Second), # 2 Statement of Facts (Defendant's Responses), # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Wolfe, Kristina) (Entered: 05/24/2018)
2018-06-0719REPLY to opposition to motion re 15 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER. (Lang, Danielle) (Entered: 06/07/2018)
2019-03-1520ORDER. Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56 and 58, and for the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment 13 is DENIED with respect to redactions (b)(6)-1, (b)(6)-2, and (b)(6)-3, and GRANTED with respect to redaction (b)(6)-4. It is FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment 15 is GRANTED with respect to redactions (b)(6)-1, (b)(6)-2, and (b)(6)-3, and DENIED with respect to redaction (b)(6)-4 and its request for an in camera review of the withheld material. The government must release the names of individuals b6-1, b6-2, and b6-3 since such disclosure would not "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 03/15/2019. (lcabj3) (Entered: 03/15/2019)
2019-03-1521MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 03/15/2019. (lcabj3) (Entered: 03/15/2019)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff
Skip to toolbar