The Virginia Department of Corrections came under national scrutiny in September when visitors learned they would not be allowed to wear tampons or menstrual cups, citing them as an apparent contraband risk. A FOIA request for a more thorough explanation of the tampon ban - through policy documents and a log of contraband incidents alluded to in the Times - revealed a two-month wait of rejection, denial and, finally, the single-page document behind the ban.
Back in 2016, we wrote about how Shawn Musgrave’s FOIA request to the State Department about how long it takes to process FOIA requests was stuck in the department’s infamous bureaucratic limbo. We are happy to report that earlier this year, over four years later than the original estimated completion date, Musgrave had finally been given the fruit of his labors: Two whole pages, released in full.
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.