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Judicial Watch • JW v. DHS Secret Service Obama Travel Complaint 00863

JW v. DHS Secret Service Obama Travel Complaint 00863

JW v. DHS Secret Service Obama Travel Complaint 00863

Page 1: JW v. DHS Secret Service Obama Travel Complaint 00863

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Number of Pages:8

Date Created:May 6, 2016

Date Uploaded to the Library:July 25, 2016

Tags:00863, Obamas, press, expenses, Columbia, Plaintiffs, SECRET, requests, release, complaint, service, DHS, defendant, filed, Obama, plaintiff, request, document, records, travel, FOIA, district, united


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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.,
425 Third Street SW, Suite 800
Washington, 20024,
Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT HOMELAND SECURITY,
Office the General Counsel
245 Murray Lane
Mailstop 0485
Washington, 20528,
Defendant.
Civil Action No.
COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. brings this action against Defendant United States
Department Homeland Security compel compliance with the Freedom Information Act,
U.S.C. 552 (FOIA). grounds therefor, Plaintiff alleges follows:
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)( 4)(B)
and U.S.C. 1331.
Venue proper this district pursuant U.S.c. 1391(e).
PARTIES
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. not-for-profit, educational organization
incorporated under the laws the District Columbia and headquartered 425 Third Street
SW, Suite 800, Washington, 20024. Plaintiff seeks promote transparency, integrity, and
accountability government and fidelity the rule law. part its mission, Plaintiff
Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
regularly requests records from federal agencies pursuant FOIA. Plaintiff analyzes the
agencies responses and disseminates both its findings and the requested records the American
public inform them about what their govemment to.
Defendant United States Department Homeland Security agency the
United States Govemment and headquartered 245 Murray Lane SW, Washington,
20528. Defendant has possession, custody, and control records which Plaintiff seeks
access.
STATEMENT FACTS
For years, Plaintiff has regularly monitored expenditures U.S. Govemment
funds VIP travel. part this on-going monitoring, Plaintiff has served numerous FOIA
requests the United States Secret Service (Secret Service), component Defendant,
seeking access records about U.S. Govemment funds expended travel the President,
members the First Family, and other VIPs receiving Secret Service protection. Secret Service
records typically include records expenses incurred for ground transportation, lodging, meals,
and other related costs for the VIP and accompanying Secret Service detail. Plaintiff also
regularly serves FOIA requests the United States Air Force and other agencies for records
about federally-funded, VIP travel. United States Air Force records reflect the cost air travel.
Plaintiff typically analyzes the records receives response its requests and
issues reports its findings. See, e.g., Press Release, Documents Show $200,383 Taxpayer
Expenses for Obamas Denver Fundraising Trip (Dec. 30, 2014); Press Release, Judicial
Watch Obtains Records Revealing $937,487.94 Security Expenses for Obamas 2013
Vacations Honolulu and Aspen (Oct. 2014); Press Release, Judicial Watch Obtains
Documents: Secret Service Tab for Obama Family 2013 Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
$2,189,727.60 for Lodging, Entertainment, and Security (May 29, 2014); Press Release,
Obama, Biden Presidents Day Weekend Vacation Cost Taxpayers $295,437 According
Mexico: $115,500.87 (Dec. 6,2012). Plaintiff also typically provides links where the
records may reviewed Plaintiffs website.
The Secret Service regularly fails issue determinations response Plaintiffs
VIP, travel-related FOIA requests within the time period required FOIA, causing Plaintiff
bring suit order obtain the requested records. These lawsuits include the following: (1)
Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Secret Service, Case No. 12-1562 (BAH) (D. District Columbia)
(filed Sept. 20, 2012); (2) Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Secret Service, Case No. 13-0647 (ESH)
(D. District Columbia) (filed May 2013); (3) Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Secret Service,
Case No. 13-0950 (KBJ) (D. District Columbia) (filed June 21, 2013); (4) Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Secret Service, Case No. 14-0046 (RLW) (D. District Columbia) (filed Jan. 13,2014);
and (5) Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Secret Service, Case No. 14-1732 (BAH) (D. District
Columbia) (filed Oct. 16,2014). November 2015, Plaintiff was forced bring suit order obtain records for travel-related FOIA requests submitted Plaintiff over the period year which the
Secret Service had failed issue determinations within the time period required FOIA.
Judicial Watch, Inc. Us. Department Homeland Security, Case No. 15-01983 (RJL) (D.
District Columbia) (filed November 10,2016).
Since that time, Plaintiff has submitted additional travel-related FOIA requests.
Similar all Plaintiff requests submitted part its on-going monitoring federallyfunded, VIP travel, Plaintiffs requests were identical nearly identical but for the name the
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
VIP and the date and/or destination the travel. Plaintiffs travel-related FOIA requests seek:
All records concerning use U.S. Government funds provide security and/or any other
services [name VIP] and any other companions their [date] trip [location].
10.
The Secret Service has not made determination any the travel-related
FOIA requests submitted Plaintiff over the past months.
11.
The Secret Service acknowledged receipt and assigned tracking number four Plaintiff requests. Plaintiff has received acknowledgment the last request, submitted
March 28, 2016. According Plaintiff facsimile transmission report, Defendant received the
last FOIA request facsimile March 28,2016 8:06 a.m. U.S. Postal Service tracking
information shows the request, sent via Certified Mail 70153430000049131764, was delivered the Secret Service April 2016 :07 a.m. The Secret Service has otherwise failed
issue determination whether comply with any the requests, produce responsive records, demonstrate that responsive records were exempt from production under one more
FOIAs exemptions.
12.
The chart attached hereto Exhibit and incorporated herein reference sets
forth, with respect each request: (1) the date the request was sent; (2) the date any
acknowledgment letter; (3) the tracking number assigned the request the Secret Service; (4)
the date any further communication; and (5) the identity the VIP, the date travel, and the
location the travel.
13.
Pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(A)(i), the Secret Service was required
determine whether comply with each request within twenty (20) working days receipt and notify Plaintiff immediately its determination, the reasons therefor, and the right appeal
any adverse determination.
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
14. the date this Complaint, the Secret Service has failed to: (i) determine
whether comply with each request; (ii) notify Plaintiff any such determination the
reasons therefor; (iii) advise Plaintiff ofthe right appeal any adverse determination; (iv)
produce the requested records otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt
from production.
15.
Because the Secret Service has failed comply with the time limit set forth U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(A), Plaintiff deemed have exhausted any and all administrative
remedies with respect its requests, pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(C).
16. result the Secret Services failure make determination Plaintiffs
travel-related FOIA requests, Plaintiff has been prevented from gathering complete records
federally-funded, VIP travel, and Plaintiffs reports about federally-funded, VIP travel have been
incomplete. See, e.g., Press Release, Judicial Watch Obtains Records Revealing Obamas
February, March 2015 Golf Vacations and Fundraisers Cost Taxpayers $4,436,245.50 Travel
Expenses Alone (Oct. 15,2015) (noting Secret Services failure produce requested
information regarding security costs); Press Release, Records Reveal Michelle Obamas June
Trip UK, Italy Cost Taxpayers $240,495.67 Flight Expenses Alone (Aug. 20, 2015)
(noting Secret Services failure respond request for attendant costs for personnel,
accommodations, meals, rental cars, and related expenses); Press Release, Judicial Watch:
Records Reveal Michelle Obamas 2014 Trip China Cost Taxpayers More Than $360,000
Air Transpoliation Expenses Alone (same); Press Release, Judicial Watch: Air Force Records
Show Obamas Single-Day Emih Day Trip Florida Everglades Cost Taxpayers $866,615.40
Flight Expenses Alone (noting Secret Services failure produce records regarding security
costs); Press Release, Records Obtained Judicial Watch Reveal Michelle Obamas Weekend
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
Ski Trip February Cost More Than $57,000 Transportation Expenses Alone (May 2015)
(noting that costs for Secret Service personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, etc. are not
included).
17.
Plaintiff intends continue submitting identical nearly identical, travel-related
ForA requests the Secret Service part its on-going efforts educate and inform the
public about what their government and promote transparency, integrity, and
accountability government and fidelity the rule law.
COUNT
(Violation FOIA, U.S.C. 552)
18.
Plaintiff realleges paragraphs through fully stated herein.
19.
Defendant violating FOlA failing conduct search reasonably calculated uncover all records responsive each Plaintiff requests and unlawfully withholding
records responsive each request.
20.
With respect each individual request, Plaintiff being irreparably harmed
reason Defendants violation lA, and Plaintiff will continue irreparably harmed
unless Defendant compelled comply fully with FOlA.
COUNT
(Violation FOIA, U.S.c. 552)
21.
Plaintiff realleges paragraphs through fully stated herein.
22. information and belief, Defendant has policy and practice violating
FOlAs procedural requirements connection with the processing Plaintiffs FOlA requests
and, particular, regularly failing refusing produce requested records otherwise
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
demonstrate that requested records are exempt from production within the time period required FOIA least within reasonable period time.
23.
Plaintiff being irreparably harmed reason Defendants unlawful policy
and practice and will continue irreparably harmed unless Defendant compelled comply
fully with FOIAs procedural requirements.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (l) order Defendant
search for any and all records responsive Plaintiffs FOIA requests and demonstrate that
employed search methods reasonably calculated uncover all records responsive each
request; (2) order Defendant produce, date certain, any and all non-exempt records
responsive each request and Vaughn index any responsive records withheld under claim exemption; (3) enjoin Defendant from continuing withhold any and all non-exempt records
responsive each request; (4) enjoin Defendant from failing refusing produce all nonexempt records responsive Plaintiffs FOIA requests otherwise demonstrate that requested
records are exempt from production within the time period required FOIA least within
reasonable period time; (5) grant Plaintiff award attorneys fees and other litigation costs
reasonably incurred this action pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(E); and (6) grant Plaintiff
such other relief the Court deems just and proper.
Dated: May 2016
Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Lauren Burke
Lauren Burke
D.C. Bar No.1 028811
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
425 Third Street SW, Suite 800
Washington, 20024
(202) 646-5172
Counsel for Plaint(ff
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Case 1:16-cv-00863 Document Filed 05/06/16 Page
EXHIBIT
No.
Date Request
Date Acknowletlgment
Letter
Tracking Number
October 13, 2015
October 30,2015
20160177
January 2016
February 2016
20160522
January 2016
February 2016
20160523
February 18,2016
March 31, 2016
20160740
March 28, 2016
None
F1JrtheF
VIP and Trav. Date and/or
Communication
Location
Pres. Obamas October 2015 Trip
San Diego,
Pres. Obamas December 2015January 2016 Trip Honolulu,
Pres. Obamas December 2015 Trip
Paris, France for Climate Change
Conference
First Lady Michelle Obamas February
2015 Trip Aspen,
Pres. Obamas March 2016 Trips
Cuba and Argentina