Two years ago, to celebrate FOIA’s 50th birthday, we filed a request with seven presidential libraries for all of their photos of presidents with cake. As of last year, all but two - the William J. Clinton and George W. Bush Presidential Libraries - had released pictures of their prez with pastry. Today, we’re checking in on the two stragglers, and see if they’ve managed to track down the treats in the last 12 months.
This week’s round-up: The cost of protecting the Winter White House, pay for play(s) in Michigan, and the DOE’s dwindling civil rights caseload
Records released this week show taxpayers paid almost $20 million for the Coast Guard to protect President Donald Trump during visits to Mar-a-Lago, and a Michigan State Police captain is under investigation for favoring a towing firm in exchange for sports tickets. Plus, records show the Department of Education has closed more than 1200 Obama-era civil rights probes, and the Environmental Protection Agency is making FOIA requesters wait for documents - with an average processing time for complex requests of 388 days.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of giving a talk with the Educational Writers Association on how to speed up slow Freedom of Information Act requests. Here are tips I’ve seen work over the years, plus a chance to share your secrets - and maybe win some free MuckRock requests.
Last year, a letter from the FBI indicated that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tied to an ongoing federal investigation. In response, Senator Sherrod Brown called for the FBI to release any relevant details so that Congress could make an informed decision. His request was rejected - a week after Mnuchin was already confirmed.
A little over a year ago, I took a look at what FOIA might look like under the Trump administration. Unfortunately for transparency, things have turned out much as we expected.