Tuesday, March 14, 2017

OPA (Taylor) Poised to Waste More Tax Dollars

PBS reports that the Obama administration, in its final year, "spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act." This after much hot air about FOIA reform, being the "most transparent administration in history" and a presumption of disclosure. It was actually the "second consecutive year, the Obama administration set a record for times federal employees told citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page of files that were requested." In addition, records were set for "outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees."

We know this routine well. William N. Taylor II "Executive Officer" of Office of the Pardon Attorney closed shop as President Obama engineered the greatest fourth year surge in clemency in American history. Taylor stopped answering our request (even as they sat with him for months, and years). He then stopped acknowledging that he was even receiving requests. Taylor then unilaterally denied requests for information granted by his Office throughout the entire Bush administration and part of the Obama administration.

Taylor has claimed he was too busy. He has claimed to have lost requests. He has pretended that information once routinely (and quickly) granted, suddenly required extensive discussions with many people. He has claimed that data now get buried / lost in a new electronic filing system and cannot be retrieved without incredible effort - effort which he is not able to expend - because he does not have to. Finally, to reduce the backlog of ignored/misplaced FOIA requests, he has simply denied, counting on applicants NOT to appeal his arbitrary and capricious decision making. See full story here.

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