Judicial Watch • Obama Cabinet Biggest Violator of Public Records Laws

Obama Cabinet Biggest Violator of Public Records Laws

Obama Cabinet Biggest Violator of Public Records Laws

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012

As President Obama completes his first term, he has failed miserably to deliver on his promise of being the “most transparent administration ever,” and cabinet-level agencies are among the worst offenders in violating public records laws.

Nineteen of 20 presidential cabinet-level agencies blew off the law requiring disclosure of public information, according to an analysis conducted by a major news syndicate. What are they mostly withholding from American taxpayers? The cost of travel by top officials, which is supposed to be public information. Other federal agencies did the same, with only 8 of a total of 57 meeting the 20-day window required by the federal law known as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FOIA is a valuable tool in Judicial Watch’s work and we too see it violated consistently. To be fair, it happens in every administration—both Democrat and Republican—and JW regularly must go to court to obtain public records that should be furnished without the need for litigation. Obama promised this would all change, that there would be a “new era of open government” when he moved into the White House.

It hasn’t materialized. A former longtime director at the Department of Justice (DOJ) office that monitors the government’s FOIA compliance, put is simply in the news story; “When it comes to implementation of Obama’s wonderful transparency policy goals, especially FOIA policy in particular, there has been far more ‘talk the talk’ rather than ‘walk the walk.’”

In the news agency probe, the administration failed to provide records for the taxpayer-funded travel expenses of cabinet secretaries and top officials of major departments. This includes heads of agencies that publicize their events in the media, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Requests for the travel costs of other cabinet officials—including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson—have also been blown off.

This is just a snippet of the stonewalling, which is nothing new since the administration has repeatedly violated transparency laws throughout its tenure. It even built additional hurdles for the most basic FOIA requests. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton offered a long list of examples during congressional testimony last year. Additionally, on major transparency issues, the Obama administration has consistently come down on the side of secrecy.

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  • wethealiens

    The United States should hold the countries of origin for the health and education expenses of their undocumented nationals. There are many consulates that do little to provide and to help the undocumented people whom they are supposed to represent, consulates should provide health care and education to their undocumented nationals or reimburse the United States government for the expenses of their undocumented nationals. Consulates like the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino instead of harboring, and hiring undocumented immigrants, along with the owners of the property (because the undocumented are cheaper than the legal residents or US citizens,. They are protected because ICE will never visit or audit the company) should provide real services, like health care and education to their nationals, so that the United States government and the taxpayers don’t have to. There are no immunity rights, it is impunity. Shame for them

  • herbie643

    This man has become the greatest disappointment. I had so much hope for his presidency and now look, NDAA, killing U.S. Citizens if deemed to be a terrorist without trial, failures on the FOIA so profound. Then, whether or not it is true, he is asking top military leaders if they would authorize killing U.S. citizens and if notm then they are shown the door.
    Bush is beginning to look like a pussycat in comparison.
    Sad, this once great country falliing, falling, falling.

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