Lawsuit Ensues as White House Sits on Conservative Legal Group’s Freedom of Information Act Requests


Cause of Action, a conservative legal group, is suing the White House over allegations of interference with executive agencies complying with FOIA requests, the Washington Post reports.

The central complaint is that federal agencies have taken over 14 months to complete Cause of Acton’s FOIAs, and still has not provided the information, owing to the fact that the requests are currently under White House review. Some of the agencies include the Department of Justice, Office of Management and Budget, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Defense.

The process of review, established in April of 2009 by a White House memo, stipulates that FOIA requests to federal agencies dealing with ‘White House equities’ need to be processed by the Obama administration first before being approved for release.

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Drawn up by Gregory Craig, former counsel to President Barack Obama, the memo states, “This is a reminder that executive agencies should consult with the White House Counsel’s Office on all document requests that may involve documents with White House equities.”

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The memo does not bode well for the administration’s self-proclamation as the most transparent administration in the nation’s history. In confirmation of administration priorities, the White House on Sunday again stated that Obama is “committed to a transparent and open government and has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that members of the public have access to information.”

As revealed previously by the Washington Times in June, however, the undefined ‘White House equities’ phrase has been used to keep a close grip on information that is politically embarrassing.

In total, Cause of Action listed 12 agencies in the suit, stating the agencies have failed to respond within the mandated time of 20 days, or even 30 days in unusual circumstances. The goal of Cause of Action’s claim is to move the court to rule that agencies must make a final decision about the documents within 30 days.

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