This week’s round-up: EPA's deep (tactical) pockets, tracking ICE's lost children, and D.B. Cooper - case closed?

This week’s round-up: EPA’s deep (tactical) pockets, tracking ICE’s lost children, and D.B. Cooper - case closed?

Even decades later, public records can shed light on some of the most enduring mysteries

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

For this week’s FOIA round-up, we’ve got the numbers on Scott Pruitt’s excessive security spending, an impending FOIA request about the enforcement mechanisms for President Donald Trump’s promise to ensure families aren’t separated at the border, and a (possible) resolution to an infamous Federal Bureau of Investigation case, thanks to FOIA.

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 roundup. And if you’d like even more inspiration, read past round ups.

Pruitt’s deep (tactical) pockets

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has got a spending habit, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

At this point, Pruitt has spent over $4.6 million on security, including over $2,000 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos,” $150,000 on vehicle leases, and $2,000 to replace Pruitt’s door when it was accidentally smashed down by his security detail.

And these costs don’t include the administrator’s salary and travel expenses.

Overall, Pruitt’s expenses don’t even begin to rival his predecessors, according to The Intercept article:

“Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who served during President Barack Obama’s first term, averaged less than a third of the travel and security costs accrued by Pruitt in his first fiscal year, according to records.”*

A portion of those documents are embedded below:

Tracking Trump’s lost children

In light of President Donald Trump’s executive order eliminating family separation at the border, the National Immigration Law Center has filed a FOIA request with several federal agencies asking for “locations, numbers, guidelines, and about any training or policy” demonstrating how Trump’s promise will be enforced.

In a NILC press release, Nora Preciado, a senior staff attorney, said the Trump administration must be held accountable to the thousands of children isolated from their families at the border.

“Since the Trump administration has failed to provide a clear plan, we are deeply concerned that children are being lost in the system,” Preciado said. “It is absolutely unacceptable that there is no indication that government agencies are working on a plan to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children who were separated from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy.”

The D.B. Cooper Mystery: Solved?

In 1972, a mystery 40-year-old man boarded a Seattle-bound plane, threatened a stewardess with a bomb he allegedly had, and demanded $200,000 and parachutes. He jumped out the back of a plane with his ransom, only identified by the name “D.B. Cooper” for decades.

A recently obtained FOIA request revealed an encoded letter which some believe divulges the true identity of the skyjacker: Vietnam veteran Robert Rackshaw.

Tom Colbert, the leader of a group of around 40 private investigators working on this case, said to the Daily News that when Colbert consulted a code breaker, he was told the letter was a confession:

He [The code breaker] decoded “through good ole Unk” to mean “by skyjacking a jet plane,” using a system of letters and numbers.*

“And please tell the lackey cops” was decoded to mean “I am 1st LT Robert Rackstraw,” according to Colbert.*

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 via