Wilbur Ross Commerce

Emma Best filed this request with the Department of Commerce of the United States of America.
Tracking # DOC-OS-2017-000329
Est. Completion None
Status
Partially 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:

Records from 2015 and 2016 relating to or mentioning Wilbur Ross, including communications received from or sent to Mr. Ross, as well as emails mentioning him.

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.

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: efoia@doc.gov

This message is to confirm your request submission to the FOIAonline application: View Request. Request information is as follows: (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2810a429c)
* Tracking Number: DOC-OS-2017-000329
* Requester Name: Michael Best
* Date Submitted: 12/16/2016
* Request Status: Submitted
* Description: Records from 2015 and 2016 relating to or mentioning Wilbur Ross, including communications received from or sent to Mr. Ross, as well as emails mentioning him.

From: efoia@doc.gov

12/16/2016 03:27 PM FOIA Request: DOC-OS-2017-000329

Dear Mr. Best:
This letter acknowledges receipt of your request for “Records from 2015 and 2016 relating to or mentioning Wilbur Ross, including communications received from or sent to Mr. Ross, as well as emails mentioning him.”
As written your request is vague, broad, and includes the entire Department of Commerce.  This request is considered burdensome, as many of the requested records are in paper format and would require a hand search for responsive records.  Please consider amending your request by narrowing the scope of your request, or specifying the Bureau of interest, topics or subject matter and reducing the time frame.
The Department of Commerce is decentralized and has fourteen (14) Bureaus with a FOIA Officer in each Bureau.  To assist you with determining which Bureau within the Department you believe would provide the documents you are seeking, please visit our website:
http://www.doc@gov . (http://www.doc@gov)
The following is a list of Bureaus within the Department of Commerce:
Immediate Office of the Secretary (OS) Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
U.S. Census Bureau (Cen)
Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA)
International Trade Administration (ITA)
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
Office of Inspector General (OIG)

If there is no response to this letter within 30 days, we will close your request.
Harriette Boyd FOIA Specialist
DOC/OS/OPOG
202-482-1485
hboyd1@doc.gov

From: Michael Best

Other, larger agencies have not interpreted the request as being too large and broad. I give specific terms and items to search for, with the most inclusive ones being for electronic searches which can and should be automated. The only other elements are limited to a single individual/subject and a limited time period. Additionally, National Security Counselors v. CIA, Nos. 11-443, 11-444, 11-445, 2012 WL 4903377 (D.D.C. Oct. 17, 2012) establishes you may not categorically refuse to process requests using language similar to mine.

If there is no response to this letter within 30 days, I will take that as your agreement that the search is neither too broad nor unreasonable and that you will proceed with the search required by statute and case law.

From: efoia@doc.gov

12/23/2016 12:45 PM FOIA Request: DOC-OS-2017-000329

Dear Mr. Best:
Regarding FOIA Request DOC-OS-2017-000329.  I am sorry that it was not clear regarding the purpose of my letter to you dated December 16, 2016.  This letter was meant to advise you of the enormity of the search this FOIA request would require given the interpretation of your request.  As currently written, your request would require a search of the correspondences of each Department of Commerce employee during those time periods (more than 37,000 employees). This could lead to delays in the processing of your request.
We do not “categorically” refuse to process this request.  This request will be assigned for Department Wide Input.
I will be the Contact regarding this request: Harriette Boyd, FOIA Specialist, hboyd1@doc.gov , (mailto:hboyd1@doc.gov) 202-482-1485.

Sincerely,
Harriette Boyd
FOIA Specialist
OS OPOG/FOIA/PA
hboyd1@doc.gov (mailto:hboyd1@doc.gov) 202-482-1485

From: Michael Best

I apologize for the confusion. Your language was confusing, as it explicitly invoked "vague" "broad" and "burdensome" and then threatened to close my request if I did not respond to your request for me to limit the scope of my request.

Given the enormity of the search, I request a rolling release as records are identified, particularly between the manual and electronic searches.

From: Department of Commerce

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: efoia@doc.gov

04/21/2017 10:57 AM FOIA Request: DOC-OS-2017-000329

From: Michael Best

The number cited in your letter is not the number assigned to my case, nor do the documents seem responsive to my case. When I search for my case, there are no documents posted.

Can you please clarify the status and location of the documents?

From: efoia@doc.gov

DOC-OS-2017-000329 has been approved for an interim release.  Please note number of documents incorrectly stated in letter there are 6 documents and not 9.
Records were released to the public as a result of this request. You may retrieve these records immediately using the following link: View Records.Over the next 2 hours, these records are also being added to FOIAonline's search pages, further enabling you to retrieve these documents associated with your FOIA request at any time. (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2810a429c)

From: FOIA, Electronic

Dear Mr. Best, I apologize for any confusion. I did send the Department’s Letter ahead of the FOIAonline Systems interim response, and the number of documents should have been 6 instead of nine, however the tracking number in the letter is correct and the documents submitted as responsive we had interpreted as being responsive to your request. The letter correctly states the request requirements.

Harriette Boyd
Freedom of Information Act Specialist
U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office: (202) 482-1485
Email: hboyd1@doc.gov

From: Michael Best

Thanks - I have the correct copies now!

From: efoia@doc.gov

DOC-OS-2017-000329 has been approved for an interim release.  Please note number of documents incorrectly stated in letter there are 6 documents and not 9.
Records were released to the public as a result of this request. You may retrieve these records immediately using the following link: View Records.Over the next 2 hours, these records are also being added to FOIAonline's search pages, further enabling you to retrieve these documents associated with your FOIA request at any time. (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2810a429c)

From: efoia@doc.gov

DOC-OS-2017-000329 has been approved for an interim release.  Please note number of documents incorrectly stated in letter there are 6 documents and not 9.
Records were released to the public as a result of this request. You may retrieve these records immediately using the following link: View Records.Over the next 2 hours, these records are also being added to FOIAonline's search pages, further enabling you to retrieve these documents associated with your FOIA request at any time. (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2810a429c)

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