Judicial Watch Asks Court to Review Government Documents On Decision to Seize Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
JANUARY 06, 2011
Obama Administration Refuses to Release Key Documents on Bailout
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[FHFA] improperly claims that [the documents] may be withheld in their entirety pursuant to the attorney work product doctrine.[FHFA] currently is withholding two responsive records that are not alleged to outline types of legal challenges and potential responses to such challenges. Instead, [FHFA] is withholding in their entirety two records “that were created for meetings with senior executives at FHFA to discuss various policy options that the agency could take with regard to the Enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and were provided to these senior policymakers in order to assist their decision-making” [Emphasis added].…Because [FHFA] has failed to show that the disclosure of the material would expose [FHFA’s] decision-making process in such a way as to discourage candid discussion and thereby undermine [the agency’s] ability to perform its functions, FHFA improperly claims that the…records may be withheld in their entirety pursuant to the deliberative process privilege.
Judicial Watch suggests the Court should, at minimum, conduct an in camera review of the documents in question so that it can determine whether or not the documents should be released to the public.With its FOIA lawsuit, Judicial Watch continues to seek the following information on behalf of Mr. McKinley:
[A]ny and all communications and records concerning or relating to the assessment of an adverse impact on systemic risk in addressing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in particular how the FHFA and the Department of the Treasury determined that conservatorship was the preferred option to avoid any systemic risk of placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into receivership.
Mr. McKinley filed his FOIA request on May 23, 2010. FHFA was required to respond to the FOIA request by June 28, 2010, but failed to produce any documents, to demonstrate why documents should be withheld, or to indicate when a response was forthcoming. Judicial Watch, therefore, filed its lawsuit on July 12, 2010, on behalf of Mr. McKinley.American taxpayers have spent at least $145 billion dollars on Fannie and Freddie so far, with analysts estimating the ultimate cost could be hundreds of billions of dollars more. The Obama administration has said that there is no upper limit to the level of taxpayer support of Fannie and Freddie.“Thanks to the Fannie/Freddie bailout, the Obama administration has taken government control of the mortgage market. And taxpayers are exposed to over $5 trillion in potential liabilities through the government mortgage giants. So it is beyond the pale that the Obama administration continues to choose secrecy over transparency regarding these bailouts, even as the associated costs continue to mount at an astonishing rate,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Simply put, the Obama administration’s lack of transparency on the bailouts is a crisis for government accountability and the rule of law.”In separate litigation being pursued by Judicial Watch, the Obama administration maintains that no documents from Fannie and Freddie are subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.