Rich Jones

I just got this back from the State Dept:

I have no idea how to proceed, especially through the MuckRock system.

I’d like it if MR would help me out on this one. I am a person who is employed to produce and disseminate news, but I’d actually rather get the exemption as an average-Joe MuckRock user if you could help me with that..

Shawn Musgrave

Hi Rich -

Sorry for the confusion. While the State Department has rejected your fee waiver, no payment is due at this time. You can appeal the fee waiver, though, if you’d like!


Rich Jones

I do want to appeal the fee waiver! Otherwise, all MuckRock users FOIAing the State Dept will have to pay fees!

I kind of want MR’s help on this.. what should I do?

Shawn Musgrave

Rich -

You can appeal the fee waiver determination by clicking the “Appeal” button at the bottom of the request.¬†

Here are a couple of websites with sample fee waiver letters – the same elements can go into an appeal of the fee waiver determination:

Hope these help!


Rich Jones

Ended up appealing with this, copied below for anybody who finds this post. I wish I didn’t have to rely on OpenWatch about this, but figured I’d include it anyway in order to improve my own success.

<pre>On May 11, 2014, I requested documents under the Freedom of </pre>

Information Act. My request was assigned the following identification number: F-2014-08294. On 5-23-2014, I received a response to my request in a letter from the Requester Communications Branch. I appeal the denial of my request to waive fees.

<pre>I appeal the decision to deny my request for a waiver of fees. I </pre>

believe that I am entitled to a waiver of fees. Disclosure of the documents I requested is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest.

<pre>Submitted as evidence that I am not a commercial requester is the </pre>

website “” - a public interest archive of US government information. I am not an owner or operator of MuckRock, I am simply a user and contributor. My use of MuckRock is analogous to my contributions to the free public online encyclopedia, Wikipedia - I am doing so solely in the interest of public understanding, and not for any commercial gain. I have used the MuckRock service to file hundreds of FOIA requests to other government agencies, and have always been considered a non-commercial requester by every single other branch of government, except the Department of State.

<pre>Submitted as evidence that I am member of the news media is the company listings of the company OpenWatch: </pre>

. OpenWatch is a registered California corporation, and I am an executive board member of this company, which publishes original international news reporting, and provides technological and informational partnerships with other media and public interest groups.

Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.


Rich Jones

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