Loose Lips

Why Many Reporters Don’t Bother With FOIA Requests

An email that was part of a Freedom of Information Act response from the D.C. Council on April 23:

The same email that was part of a different FOIA response from the D.C. Council on May 29:

The same email that was part of a FOIA response from the Department of Parks and Recreation on May 29:

  • http://craigpittman.com Craig Pittman

    I submitted numerous FOIAs for my book on the wild world orchid-smuggling, "The Scent of Scandal." One went to the U.S. Marshal's Service for a file on a fugitive smuggler. Six months passed, then I got a reply. It said the agency DID have a file on the fugitive...but per their policy, in order to look at it, I'd have to get the fugitive's permission!

  • mmhh

    Really absurd.

  • Richard

    Looks like an email from a D.C. agency attorney to Ellen London of a trust that benefits the client agency, with a copy sent to a city council member.

    For the request to Parks & Rec: are written communications from a D.C. city agency attorney to a trust that benefits the agency properly exempt from release under the FOIA?

    For the FOIA request to City Council: is an email copy from a city attorney to a city council member properly exempt from release under FOIA?

    "Not bothering" is the wrong lesson to take. The release of the attorney email may have been an FOIA mistake all around. Congratulations!

  • Richard

    Different government bodies may have different relationships to the same material. The email to the trust official may have been subject to FOIA disclosure by Parks and Rec. But it may have been privileged and NOT subject to FOIA disclosure by City Council, as to the email copy sent to a council member by a city attorney.

    The lesson reporters should consider is indeed -- request the same material from different places. For one thing, you increase the chance of accidental DISCLOSURE of information that could properly have been redacted.

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