Rebeckah Adcock External Emails

Alexander Rony filed this request with the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary of the United States of America.
Tracking #

2019-DA-05664-F

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Description of Records Sought

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for Rebeckah Adcock's emails that were sent to or from email addresses with the domains .com or .org. Please include any attachments. You may exclude emails that were not sent directly between Ms. Adcock and an individual with a .com or .org email domain. Please search from July 28, 2017 to the date this request is processed.

II. Request for a Fee Waiver

I respectfully request that you waive all fees in connection with this request as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can be better informed and meaningfully participate in protecting the nation's natural resources and public health.

The subject matter of the requested records is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government by disclosing with whom the USDA's Regulatory Reform Officer is communicating, and about which government regulations. Due to the broad scope of Executive Order 13777, these regulations can apply to virtually every issue that the USDA works on, impacting people's lives in a variety of ways. Ms. Adcock, who signed an ethics agreement not to work on items on which she previously lobbied, has been found to have emailed and met with her former employers (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/business/trump-regulations-usda-lobbyists.html) along with other private entities with deregulatory interests.

The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area, specifically the development of standards designed to limit pollution, safeguard public health, grow the sustainable agriculture economy, and conserve natural resources. In addition to our staff's formal recommendations, our supporters have filed millions of public comments to agencies related to regulations that are likely to be affected by Executive Order 13777 and accompanying regulatory reform efforts.

III. Media Requester Status

In addition to the public interest fee waiver, I ask to be properly categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including composing mass communications to our followers, analyzing FOIA responses, and coordinating press outreach. Here are some examples that resulted from my work:

https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4480/over-700000-people-tell-government-to-block-seed-mergers

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

IV. Exempt Records

Should you decide to invoke a FOIA exemption with regard to any of the requested records, please include in your response letter sufficient information for an appeal, including:

1. Basic factual material about each withheld item, including the originator, date, length, general subject matter, and location of each item.
2. Explanations and justifications for denial, including the identification of the category within the governing statutory provision under which the document (or portion thereof) was withheld and a full explanation of how each exemption fits the withheld material.

If you determine that portions of a requested record are exempt from disclosure, please redact the exempt portions and provide the remainder of the record.

V. Record Delivery

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

Please produce the records on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for – or deliberation concerning – certain records delay the production of others that the agency has already retrieved and elected to produce.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your timely response.

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Dear Mr. Rony:

This email acknowledges receipt of your attached July 16, 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Departmental FOIA Office (DFO). Your request was received by an analyst for processing on July 25. The DFO is under the purview of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and serves as the focal point for USDA's FOIA program. The DFO provides coordination and ensures agency-wide compliance with FOIA. Additionally, the DFO processes requests and appeals on behalf of the Office of the Secretary and Departmental Administration's (DA) components (previously Departmental Management). For a complete listing of DA's components, please visit http://www.dm.usda.gov/agencies.htm.

The FOIA regulation 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i) requires USDA to make a determination in response to a FOIA request within 20 business days from its date of receipt. In unusual circumstances, the federal agency time limit may be extended by 10 business days as stated in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B). If your request seeks numerous records that will necessitate a wide ranging search including searches with components and possible consultations with components that have a substantial interest in the determination of this request, USDA will invoke a 10 business day extension for determination of your request. You have the option to narrow the scope of your request to limit the number of potentially responsive records. Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request. Pursuant to USDA FOIA regulations, Title 7 CFR §1.8(d), the USDA processes FOIA requests according to their order of receipt.

You have requested a fee waiver. Provisions of the FOIA allow USDA to recover part of the cost of complying with your request. Your request for a waiver has been granted. For purposes of fee assessment, you have been categorized as a "news media" requester, pursuant to 7 CFR Appendix A to Subpart A of Part 1 Section (5)(c). For your review and information, a copy of the USDA FOIA Fee Schedule is attached.

A search will be conducted for records responsive to your request. If any responsive records are located, they will be reviewed for determination of releasability. Your request has been assigned FOIA Case No. 2019-DA-05664-F. Please refer to this case number in any future correspondence with the DFO. If you have any questions regarding the processing of this request, please reply to this message or contact USDAFOIA@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:USDAFOIA@ocio.usda.gov> or 202-694-5982. For additional information regarding USDA FOIA regulations and process, please refer to the information available online at www.dm.usda.gov/foia<http://www.dm.usda.gov/foia>.
Sincerely,

Departmental FOIA Office
(202) 694-5982

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Dear Mr. Rony:

I reviewed your FOIA request and I think the Departmental FOIA Office (DFO) may be able to produce records for you in a shorter than anticipated timeframe. Please give me a call (202-694-5982) to discuss. Today, I will be unavailable from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m., and I will not be in the office after 3:30 p.m. If you are unable to call today, I will look forward to speaking with you on Monday.

Thank you,

Aja Oyegunle
FOIA Analyst, USDA
Departmental FOIA Office
(202) 694-5982

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Good afternoon, Mr. Rony:

Thank you for speaking with me today regarding your FOIA request. When we spoke, I informed you that the Departmental FOIA Office (DFO) has some records already available that are responsive to your request. These records are from April 2017 to August 2018. From our conversation, I understand that you are interested in expediting your receipt of DFO records, thus are willing to accept the available records in lieu of initiating the more expansive search that you originally requested. As such, you will, of course, retain the right to re-request additional records in the future, if you so choose. If I have misunderstood any part of our conversation, please let me know.

Thank you,

Departmental FOIA Office
(202) 694-5982

From: Alexander Rony

Yes, that is right. Thank you.

Alexander

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Dear Mr. Rony:

The Departmental FOIA Office (DFO) emailed you a final response to your request on August 2. The final response was sent to requests@muckrock.com<mailto:requests@muckrock.com>.

Sincerely,

Departmental FOIA Office
(202) 694-5982

From: Muckrock Staff

Hi there,

I apologize for the confusion, but we are unable to locate the records that you say were sent on August 2, 2019. Would your office be able to provide them again, resending them both to this email address and info@muckrock.com? It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your time and help.

Best wishes,
Beryl Lipton, MuckRock

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Dear MuckRock:

Please see your requested item attached.

Sincerely,

Departmental FOIA Office
(202) 694-5982

From: Muckrock Staff

Hello,

I really appreciate your patience during this process. Unfortunately, we can't access any of the attachments linked on the email pdf you sent last week. Would it be possible to send it in another form that would make the attachments accessible.

Thanks so much for your time and help.

From: U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary

Good morning. I have just resent the Final Response to the following email addresses: info@muckrock.com<mailto:info@muckrock.com>; requests@muckrock.com<mailto:requests@muckrock.com>. Hopefully, there will be no trouble opening them this time. However, if you still cannot open the attachments, please respond to this message, and I will upload the documents directly using the web link you provided in your earlier email.
Also, what is the error message you’re receiving when attempting to open the attachments?

From:

This is email one of two.

Departmental FOIA Office

(202) 694-5982

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

From:

This is email two of two.

Departmental FOIA Office

(202) 694-5982

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

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