Communication between top VA officials and "Shoe Bob" Carey

Jasper Craven filed this request with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of the United States of America.
Tracking #

18-08721-F,

18-08721-F

Due July 10, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Jasper Craven


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All e-mail communications between officials at The Independence Fund including "Shoe Bob" Bob Carey, the Chief Advocacy Officer, and the following VA officials: Casin Spero, Darin Selnick, Curt Cashour, David Shulkin, Scott Blackburn, Thomas Bowman, Peter O'Rourke, Brooks Tucker and Jonathan Ullyot between Jan. 20, 2017 and present day. Keywords should include, but are not limited to, "VA," "accountability," "choice," "congress," "CVA," "private," and "mission." The emails from the independence fund staffers will end in @independencefund.org

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Jasper Craven

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Thank You
Shirley Williams
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (OPIA 002)
(202) 273-5716 Fax

Confidentiality Note: This e-mail is intended only for the person to whom it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure. Dissemination, distribution, or copying of this e-mail or the information herein by anyone other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify by reply e-mail and destroy the original message and all copies.

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


From: Williams, Shirley (075)
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 1:26 PM
To: requests@muckrock.com
Cc: Major, Anita; Johnson, Lyndon (VA)
Subject: Acknowledgement of Receipt FOIA 18-08721-F

When referring to your request please use FOIA 18-09149-F

Thank You
Shirley Williams
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (OPIA 002)
(202) 273-5716 Fax

Confidentiality Note: This e-mail is intended only for the person to whom it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure. Dissemination, distribution, or copying of this e-mail or the information herein by anyone other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify by reply e-mail and destroy the original message and all copies.

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

August 3, 2018 In Reply Refer To: 001B

FOIA Request: 18-09149-F

Mr. Jasper Craven

MuckRock News

DEPT MR 54630

411A Highland Ave

Somerville, MA 02144-2516

requests@muckrock.com<mailto:requests@muckrock.com>; jclarkcraven@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Craven:

This is the partial Initial Agency Decision to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs (OSVA) dated and received June 11, 2018, and assigned FOIA tracking number 18-09149-F. You seek all OSVA email communications between officials at the Independence Funding including "Shoe Bob" Bobby Carey, the Chief Advocacy Officer and the following VA officials: Casin Spero, Darin Selnick, David Shulkin, Thomas Bowman, Peter O'Rourke, between 1/20/2017-present.

To clarify, the OIT (18-08721-F), OPIA (18-09148-F), and OAWP (18-09150-F) FOIA offices are processing you FOIA requests for similar records located within their respective offices.

June 22, 2018, and August 2, 2018, Reasonable Searches

On June 22, 2018 (our search cut-off date), and August 2, 2018, the OSVA FOIA Officer searched through the email boxes of former VA Secretary David Shulkin, former VA Acting Secretary Peter O'Rourke, former VA Senior Advisor Darin Selnick, former VA Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman, and White House Liaison Casin Spero for emails with @independencefund.org. We used the search date timeframe of January 20, 2017 to May 3, 2018. This search yielded one hundred seven (107) pages of responsive emails and attachments.

In the future, we intend to release redacted emails and attachments dated between May 4, 2018 and June 22, 2018.

Partial Initial Agency Decision
For one hundred seven (107) responsive emails and attachments located thus far, OSVA now releases ninety-nine (99) pages. For eight (8) pages, we are required to consult with the White House FOIA Liaison. Are reviewing the ninety-nine (99) pages, we redact some information with FOIA Exemption 6.

5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) exempts from required disclosure "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." "Withholding a telephone number or e-mail address, alone, is not sufficient to protect that [privacy] interest; alternate means of contacting and harassing these employees would be readily discoverable on the Internet if this court ordered their names disclosed." Long v. Immigration & Customs Enf't, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160719 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Information withheld consists of names, VA usernames, identifies, book names and pictures revealing identities, phone numbers, email addresses of private citizens and VA employees; VA does not redact names and email address of VA Senior Executives. Disclosure could expose employees to forgery, fraud, identity theft, and harassment. The redacted information reveals nothing about how the agencies perform their statutory duties. VA did not redact personal information in publicly released documetns.

FOIA Mediation
As part of the 2007 FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation. Under the provisions of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, the following contact information is provided to assist FOIA requesters in resolving disputes:

VA Central Office FOIA Public Liaison:
Name: John Buck
Email Address: vacofoiaservice@va.gov<mailto:vacofoiaservice@va.gov>

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
Email Address: ogis@nara.gov<mailto:ogis@nara.gov>
Fax: 202-741-5769
Mailing address:
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

FOIA Appeal
This concludes OSVA's first partial response to request 18-09149-F. Please be advised that should you desire to do so, you may appeal the determination made in this response to:

Office of General Counsel (024)
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

If you should choose to file an appeal, please include a copy of this letter with your written appeal and clearly indicate the basis for your disagreement with the determination set forth in this response. Please be advised that in accordance with VA's implementing FOIA regulations at 38 C.F.R. § 1.559, your appeal must be postmarked no later than ninety (90) days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

Richard Ha

OSVA FOIA/Privacy Officer

Attachment

Ninety-nine (99) of redacted emails and attachments with @independencefund.org

Richard Ha, JD, CIPP/G
OSVA FOIA/Privacy Officer
Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the Secretary (OSVA)
U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
202-632-5286 o
202-309-3072 c
Richard.ha1@va.gov<mailto:Richard.ha1@va.gov>
Telework Weds
CWS 2nd Mon

These messages and attachments are For Official Use Only, not to be shared outside intended parties, and may be exempt from disclosure pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3) prohibiting the release of information that another statute prohibits; 41 U.S.C. § 4702(b) prohibiting the release of unincorporated proposals; 41 U.S.C. § 423(a) prohibiting the release of bid or proposal information or evaluations before award; 26 U.S.C. § 6103 prohibiting the release of tax identification numbers; 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4) prohibiting the release of confidential commercial information; 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5) under the deliberative process, attorney-client, and work product privileges; and 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) protecting personally identifiable information. If you received these messages and attachments in error, you must inform the FOIA Officer and destroy them immediately. The VA reserves its discovery rights including, but not limited to, objections, privileges, motions, etc.

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

August 22, 2018 In Reply Refer To: 001B

FOIA Request: 18-09149-F

Mr. Jasper Craven

MuckRock News

DEPT MR 54630

411A Highland Ave

Somerville, MA 02144-2516

requests@muckrock.com<mailto:requests@muckrock.com>; jclarkcraven@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Craven:

This is the Second Agency Decision to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs (OSVA) dated and received June 11, 2018, and assigned FOIA tracking number 18-09149-F. You seek all OSVA email communications between officials at the Independence Funding including "Shoe Bob" Bobby Carey, the Chief Advocacy Officer and the following VA officials: Casin Spero, Darin Selnick, David Shulkin, Thomas Bowman, Peter O'Rourke, between 1/20/2017-present.

To clarify, the OIT (18-08721-F), OPIA (18-09148-F), and OAWP (18-09150-F) FOIA offices are processing you FOIA requests for similar records located within their respective offices.

June 22, 2018, August 2, 2018, and August 21, 2018 Reasonable Searches

On June 22, 2018 (our search cut-off date), and August 2, 2018, the OSVA FOIA Officer searched through the email boxes of former VA Secretary David Shulkin, former VA Acting Secretary Peter O'Rourke, former VA Senior Advisor Darin Selnick, former VA Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman, and White House Liaison Casin Spero for emails with @independencefund.org. We used the search date timeframe of January 20, 2017, to May 3, 2018. This search yielded ninety-nine (99) pages of responsive emails and attachments.

On August 21, 2018, the OSVA FOIA Officer searched through the email boxes of former VA Acting Secretary Peter O'Rourke, former VA Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman, and White House Liaison Casin Spero for emails with @independencefund.org. We used the search date timeframe of May 4, 2018, to June 22, 2018. This search yielded eleven (11) pages of responsive emails and attachments.

Second Agency Decision
After reviewing eleven (11) pages, OSVA redacts some information with FOIA Exemption 6. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) exempts from required disclosure "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." "Withholding a telephone number or e-mail address, alone, is not sufficient to protect that [privacy] interest; alternate means of contacting and harassing these employees would be readily discoverable on the Internet if this court ordered their names disclosed." Long v. Immigration & Customs Enf't, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160719 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Information withheld consists of names, identifies, phone numbers, email addresses of private citizens and federal employees; VA does not redact names and email address of VA Senior Executives. Disclosure could expose employees to forgery, fraud, identity theft, and harassment. The redacted information reveals nothing about how the agencies perform their statutory duties. VA did not redact personal information in publicly released documents.

August 3, 2018 Initial Agency Decision
On August 3, 2018, after reviewing ninety-nine (99) pages, OSVA redacted some information with FOIA Exemption 6.

FOIA Mediation
As part of the 2007 FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation. Under the provisions of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, the following contact information is provided to assist FOIA requesters in resolving disputes:

VA Central Office FOIA Public Liaison:
Name: John Buck
Email Address: vacofoiaservice@va.gov<mailto:vacofoiaservice@va.gov>

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
Email Address: ogis@nara.gov<mailto:ogis@nara.gov>
Fax: 202-741-5769
Mailing address:
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

FOIA Appeal
This concludes OSVA's response to request 18-09149-F. Please be advised that should you desire to do so, you may appeal the determination made in this response to:

Office of General Counsel (024)
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

If you should choose to file an appeal, please include a copy of this letter with your written appeal and clearly indicate the basis for your disagreement with the determination set forth in this response. Please be advised that in accordance with VA's implementing FOIA regulations at 38 C.F.R. § 1.559, your appeal must be postmarked no later than ninety (90) days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

Richard Ha, JD, CIPP/G

OSVA FOIA/Privacy Officer

Attachment - eleven (11) redacted pages

Richard Ha, JD, CIPP/G
OSVA FOIA/Privacy Officer
Office of the Executive Secretary
Office of the Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (OSVA)
202-632-5286 o
202-309-3072 c
Richard.ha1@va.gov<mailto:Richard.ha1@va.gov>
Telework Weds
CWS 2nd Mon

These messages and attachments are For Official Use Only, not to be shared outside intended parties, and may be exempt from disclosure pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3) prohibiting the release of information that another statute prohibits; 41 U.S.C. § 4702(b) prohibiting the release of unincorporated proposals; 41 U.S.C. § 423(a) prohibiting the release of bid or proposal information or evaluations before award; 26 U.S.C. § 6103 prohibiting the release of tax identification numbers; 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4) prohibiting the release of confidential commercial information; 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5) under the deliberative process, attorney-client, and work product privileges; and 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) protecting personally identifiable information. If you received these messages and attachments in error, you must inform the FOIA Officer and destroy them immediately. The VA reserves its discovery rights including, but not limited to, objections, privileges, motions, etc.

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

10/03/2018 Mr. Jasper Craven This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated 09/15/2018 in which you requested the following: Your request was received in this office on 09/24/2018. Your request has been assigned to 18-12756-F and an acknowledgement response will be forthcoming

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

10/03/2018 Mr. Jasper Craven This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated 09/15/2018. Your request was received in this office on 09/28/2018. Your request has been assigned to 18-12958-F and an acknowledgement response will be forthcoming.

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