Trump Team OGE Submissions

Emma Best filed this request with the Office of Government Ethics of the United States of America.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Submissions from Donald Trump, his transition team and nominees regarding financial status, potential conflicts of interest, etc. Please include OGE responses to these documents. Please include any materials submitted in 2016 up through the date of the processing of this request.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

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,

Michael Best

From: Jennifer Matis

Mr. Best,

This acknowledges receipt of your January 6, 2017, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for "Submissions from Donald Trump, his transition team and nominees regarding financial status, potential conflicts of interest, etc. Please include OGE responses to these documents. Please include any materials submitted in 2016 up through the date of the processing of this request." Your request was received on January 9, 2017 and assigned tracking number OGE FOIA FY 17/078.

I need to speak to you to clarify the scope of documents requested. Can you please provide a telephone number at which you can be reached, or give me a call at the number below?

Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Matis
OGE FOIA Team
202-482-9216
jennifer.matis@oge.gov<mailto:jennifer.matis@oge.gov>

OGE Confidential Notice: This email, including all attachments, may constitute a Federal record or other Government property that is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. This email also may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the transmission to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of this email or its contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender by responding to the email and then immediately delete the email.

From: Michael Best

No, I communicate by email only. Also, I will not be limited the scope of my request. However, if you wish to ask me to anyway and explain why you feel this is necessary, feel free to do so in writing and I will give it the proper consideration.

From: USOGE

Please see attached correspondence.

Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Matis
OGE FOIA Team

OGE Confidential Notice: This email, including all attachments, may constitute a Federal record or other Government property that is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. This email also may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the transmission to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of this email or its contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender by responding to the email and then immediately delete the email.

From: Michael Best

You realize that the scope of the request you are suggesting I change mine to mirror is BROADER than the request I actually submitted, right? Beyond that, my request did "reasonably describe the desired record in sufficient detail to enable Office personnel to locate the records with a reasonable amount of effort." However, if you wish to take my "too broad" request and broaden it further in order to make it "not too broad" then I will agree to this, provided you do not exclude any materials that would be respondent to the criteria I set out in my original request. In other words, you may add the criteria you suggest to the criteria I specified.

From: Michael Best

Please confirm receipt of my response sent on 1/28/2017. For your convenience, here it is again:

You realize that the scope of the request you are suggesting I change mine to mirror is BROADER than the request I actually submitted, right? Beyond that, my request did "reasonably describe the desired record in sufficient detail to enable Office personnel to locate the records with a reasonable amount of effort." However, if you wish to take my "too broad" request and broaden it further in order to make it "not too broad" then I will agree to this, provided you do not exclude any materials that would be respondent to the criteria I set out in my original request. In other words, you may add the criteria you suggest to the criteria I specified.

From: USOGE

The issue with your request isn’t that it is too broad; the issue is that we do not have sufficient information to identify which records are being sought. In our experience, this kind of clarification is much easier to accomplish in a telephone conversation. However, since you decline to communicate with us by telephone, we are doing our best to clarify your request in writing. Based on our understanding of your request, we believe that the language we proposed (copied below) would fully encompass all records sought by your original request. Again, if that understanding is wrong, please describe what additional records are included in your request but not encompassed by the proposed language. As the FOIA Officer indicated in her letter, unless and until OGE receives additional information from you, your request will be deemed to seek the records described below (and only those records) and will be processed accordingly. Conversely, if you are not interested in some of the records described below, please let us know which records should be excluded.

Communications between OGE and the Trump Presidential Transition Team and/or any federal agency that pertain to any of the following topics, as they relate to Trump Administration Cabinet-level nominees:

1. public financial disclosure reports of Cabinet-level nominees

2. ethics agreements involving blind trusts, divestment, or screening or recusal arrangements

3. conflict of interest waivers

4. certificates of divestiture

5. ethics pledge waivers

6. ethics issues involving Cabinet-level nominees

7. the continued application of E.O. 13490, including the ethics pledge, after the end of the Obama Administration

In addition, vetting packages for Trump Administration Cabinet-level nominees, and related records.
Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Matis
OGE FOIA Team

From: Michael Best

Ah, thank you for clarifying. What you proposed will be fine.

From: USOGE

Hello,

We are currently processing the responsive documents, which are voluminous. Our goal is to try to provide a final response by the end of March.
Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Matis
OGE FOIA Team

From: USOGE

We are still processing the responsive records. I have updated the expected date of completion to be June 30, 2017.

For future reference, you may track the status of your FOIA request online at: https://extapps2.oge.gov/FOIAStatus/FOIAInfo.nsf/SearchByFOIANumber?OpenForm. Please enter the individualized tracking number above for status information, including the estimated date of completion.

Thank you for your patience as we try to respond to all requests as expeditiously as possible.
Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Matis
OGE FOIA Team

From: Jennifer Matis

Please see attached correspondence and records.

________________________________
OGE Confidential Notice: This message may contain Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) that requires safeguarding or dissemination control under applicable law, regulation, or Government-wide policy. This email, including all attachments, may constitute a Federal record or other Government property that is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the transmission to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of this email or its contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender by responding to the email and then immediately delete the email.
________________________________

  • OGE FOIA FY 17-078 Final Response (1st rolling)

  • OGE FOIA FY 17-078 Index of Withheld Records (1st rolling)

  • OGE FOIA FY 17-078 Final Response Records (Emails)_Redacted

  • OGE FOIA FY 17-078 Final Response Records (All Nomination, Preclearanc

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