This week’s FOIA round-up: USDA adopts a new “hands-off” animal welfare policy, ICE is putting mentally ill migrants in solitary confinement, and an L.A. official was paid by an agency he was lobbying
In this week’s FOIA round-up, the number of animal welfare citations issued by the USDA has decreased by 65% under the Trump Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is placing record numbers of migrants in solitary confinement, many of whom are mentally ill, L.A. official Michael LoGrande was lobbying private developers while serving as the head of the city’s Planning Agency, and the Tennessee Court of Appeals rules that state agencies still have to release public records that are part of criminal investigations.
Steven Rich, the database editor for the investigations team at The Washington Post, recently gained access to a database that traced every pain pill distributed across the US between 2006 and 2012. The database provides a look at where opioids have been distributed by which pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the federal government has long been aware of the scope of the opioid crisis. Rich spoke to MuckRock about taking advantage of a lawsuit to gain access to the Drug Enforcement Administration pain pill database and how to use public records to report on private companies.
After a 2016 Inspector General report in which Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director David Shedd defended his use of a government-issued vehicle to travel to and from restaurants by arguing that trips were necessitated by the poor food quality in the DIA cafeteria, JPat Brown filed a FOIA for the agency cafeteria complaints. After three years of processing, the DIA released 110 pages of responsive records - the most horrifying of which make it sound like Shedd might have had a point.
Public agencies’ annual Halloween candy notices are prevalent across social media and news publications. Marijuana candy, in particular, increasingly dominates fearful headlines ahead of the holiday as more states legalize recreational use of the drug.