WASHINGTON, D.C. – Empower Oversight filed an amended complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia informing the District Court of additional details regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) bad faith attempts to delay and avoid complying with Empower Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding conflicts of interest by top SEC officials surrounding cryptocurrency enforcement actions.
The amended complaint details Empower Oversight’s discussions with the SEC. In those conversations, SEC officials requested narrower search terms to identify individuals by name associated with each organization listed in the FOIA request. Empower Oversight provided the list of names in February 2022, as requested. In the six months since then, the SEC has refused to search for records containing the naming the listed individuals, as promised.
The SEC must file its answer to the amended complaint by August 17, 2022.
After Empower Oversight filed its initial FOIA request in August 2021, it took the SEC seven months to respond. After this seven month delay, the SEC responded in February by providing some responsive documents but asking for more specific information to fulfill the entirety of the request. After providing this, the SEC continued to delay and refused to turn over the documents.
The key facts demonstrating the SEC’s bad faith and refusal to comply with its legal obligations under FOIA can be found in paragraphs 30-36 and 54 in the amended complaint.
Jason Foster, President of Empower Oversight, said, “The SEC has flat-out refused to conduct a reasonable search despite the concessions we’ve made to narrow and clarify which names could be used as search terms to find responsive documents. We hope these additional details demonstrate to the court that the SEC is refusing to follow the law in defiance of the public interest.”