This week’s round-up: FBI gets shady on dark web bust, records show Trump trips cost thousands, and Texas comes down hard on public records violations

This week’s round-up: FBI gets shady on dark web bust, records show Trump trips cost thousands, and Texas comes down hard on public records violations

A welcome dispatch from the alternate universe where violating FOIA laws has consequences

Written by
Edited by Beryl Lipton

For this week’s FOIA round-up, the Federal Bureau of Investigation claims it can withhold footage of a dark web bust it had already made public, Secret Service records show a five-figure bill for a First Family visit to a Trump International Hotel in Canada, and a rare indictment for violating public records laws gets handed down in Texas.

See a great use of public records we missed? Send over your favorite FOIA stories via email, on Twitter, or on Facebook, and maybe we’ll include them in the next round-up. And if you’d like even more inspiration, read past round-ups.

FBI’s selective transparency towards “dark web” bust

Back in January, Motherboard reported on the FBI airing a video of its arrest of Alexandre Cazes, who ran the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, at Fordham University’s International Conference on Cyber Security.

Motherboard reporter Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai filed a FOIA for the full video and just this week wrote that the Bureau has responded with a denial, though the letter wasn’t clear on what grounds.

“The information you seek does not fall under the purview of the FOIA,” the rejection letter argues, explaining that my request did not comply with FOIA regulations, although it doesn’t specify which ones.

Cazes committed suicide shortly after his arrest; he never stood trial.

No First Family discount at Trump hotels

Recently-released USSS records obtained by the Washington Post document how a trip by Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Tiffany Trump to the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Vancouver, Canada cost the US government over $20,000.

This same week, the Scotsman reported that State Department spending records showed that President Donald Trump’s recent visit to his Trump Turnberry golf course in Scotland cost $68,800.

A rare indictment for withholding public records in Texas

The Houston Chronicle reported this week that Darian Ward, the former press secretary for Mayor Sylvester Turner, had been indicted for failing to release emails under the Texas Public Information Act.

The indictment, handed up Thursday and released by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office, says Ward misrepresented the number of emails responsive to a reporter’s request for correspondence about her personal business activities and unlawfully withheld public records.

Ward resigned in January, weeks after news broke that she had been suspended for withholding the records, and because the records showed she routinely had conducted personal business on city time.

Read the full indictment embedded below.

Read a great FOIA-based news story we should highlight? Let us know and maybe we can include it in our next roundup! Send it over via email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Image by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr and is liscened under CC BY 2.0