Obama breaks promises regarding Freedom of Information Act

After seven months of stonewalling their FOIA requests, Don Loos and the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation have been forced file a complaint with the U.S. District Court demanding the Department of Labor be compelled to give them the information they seek. So much for Obama's promise to run the the most open and transparent administration in history.

On Obama's first day in office, the Department of Justice issued the following memorandum regarding FOIA requests:

The President directed that FOIA “should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.” Moreover, the President instructed agencies that information should not be withheld merely because “public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

Agencies were directed to respond to requests “promptly and in a spirit of cooperation.” The President also called on agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” and to apply that presumption “to all decisions involving [the] FOIA.” This presumption of disclosure includes taking “affirmative steps to make information public,” and utilizing “modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.”

The Obama administration's full-throated endorsement of transparency here only makes the administration's utter failure to respond to FOIA requests that much more infuriating. Loos has beentrying for months to get basic information regarding the relationships between union bosses and Obama Labor department employees, including:

  • Records from communications and recorded events where specified Obama appointees and Big Labor official were present
  • Lists of lawsuits involving the Department of Labor and Deborah Greenfield within the past eight years.
  • List of any gifts received by Solis in the past 5 years from Big Labor or its officials
  • Specifically provide in detail (a) notes, (b) agreements, (c) communications, and (d) agendas related to the regulations related to the labor union and officer disclosure rules
  • Copies of phone logs
  • Copies of any notes or documents related to any enforcement of any labor laws and any outside groups such as labor unions, American Rights at Work, or ACORN

None of this information should be a closely guarded state secret. To the contrary, the public is probably owed such knowledge. And as bad as the Department of Labor is behaving, stonewalling FOIA requests is common throughout the Obama administration.

Beltway ConfidentialUS

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