Sunshine Week? Administration Brags About FOIA; CEI Experience Tells Different Story

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2013 — This week is “Sunshine Week,” a national initiative dedicated to open government. In the spirit of the occasion, the White House is publishing a series of posts demonstrating “the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to open and accessible government.”

Interestingly, Monday’s post focused on “progress made improving the administration of the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act].” The post states:

Over the past four years agencies have been working hard to improve their administration of the FOIA under guidance issued by Attorney General Holder. That guidance directed agencies to apply a presumption of openness in responding to requests and to make it a priority to respond promptly. Both the President and Attorney General stressed that it is also vital for agencies to make information available proactively, without the need to make a request, so that what is “known and done by their Government” is readily available to all. These directives are taking hold across the agencies and real improvements are being made.

Unfortunately, CEI’s ongoing experience with the Environmental Protection Agency tells a different story. As detailed here, CEI is currently receiving tranches of emails from the EPA as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request (and subsequent lawsuit) targeting emails from now-former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s alias “Richard Windsor” email account. Most of the emails we have received are heavily redacted. 

CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner, who first discovered the use of alias email accounts at EPA and who is spearheading CEI’s current efforts, explains in the below video how EPA is being less-than-transparent.