Must read FOI stories – 6/27/14
- Two senators are proposing the most significant reforms to the Freedom of Information Act in four decades
- We’ve got a journalist at the adult table! Andrew Becker, reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, will be serving on the federal FOIA Modernization Advisory Committee to, let’s hope, make FOIA stronger for journalists and the public.
- FOIA from the “budget” perspective answers the following questions: How much are we spending on FOIA oversight? How does that compare to the costs of litigation? How much does the government spend on FOIA administration overall.
- The FBI’s 83-page guide to Twitter shorthand. FMTYEWTK (Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know).
- “Existence or Nonexistence” was written in a sky message over New York City to mock a CIA response to a FOIA request that said the agency can “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence” of records responsive to the request.
- A federal judge ruled that the Freedom of Information Act trumps an Internal Revenue Service policy for handling data requests after an advocacy group, Public.Resource.Org, filed a lawsuit against the IRS to make Form 990 returns available in a format that can be read by computers so the public can more easily search them for critical information about non-profit finances, governance and programs.
- An Oklahoma County judge ruled that Gov. Mary Fallin can lawfully withhold public documents — relating to a decision on Obamacare — which are covered by a “deliberative process” privilege.
- The Florida Supreme Court will hear a case regarding the payment of attorney fees to a local activist who challenged the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund over public record laws and won (but not attorney’s fees).
- A bill “rushed through” the Illinois General Assembly spring session is drawing the ire of a good-government group that contends it will restrict the ability of citizens to get information about their governments.
- Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy proposes new legislation to open up Vermont’s FOIA laws, but the governor wants no part in that.
- In response to a long-running FOIA lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. releases “targeted killing” memo.
- Tulsa World editorial calls for the legislature to strike down the “deliberative process” exemption. A judge recently ruled that Governor Mary Fallin was allowed to withhold 100 pages out of 51,000 concerning her state’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
- North Carolina legislators are proposing legislation that will prevent the public from accessing mugshots.
- Pennsylvania court backs the power of its state’s Open Records Office to order governments to surrender records for private review — to determine whether they should or shouldn’t be released to the public
- The “FOIA Warriors” (Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro) are at it again and have filed a lawsuit against the CIA compelling the agency to release documents about its spying on Senate lawmakers who were tasked with investigating CIA torture.
- The National Rifle Association is happy about a new Michigan law that exempts gun records from public disclosure.
- Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they’re private corporations and immune from open records laws.
David Schick is the summer 2014 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern for SPJ, reporting and researching public records and FOI issues. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick
Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Supreme Court, FOIA budget, FOIA Friday, FOIA Modernization Advisory Committee, Governor Mary Fallin, Senator Patrick Leahy