In The News
September 20, 2022

Real Clear Investigations

Frustrated over what they see as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s stonewalling, Senate Republicans fired off a critical letter this summer to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.

An ordinary American, they grumbled, “would be entitled to receive more records from the SEC” than the powerful Senate Banking Committee lawmakers had received to date to perform their duly ordained oversight of the agency.

The bureaucratic curveballs come as the quantity of FOIA requests has exploded, whether because of the request-splitting practice, the growth of government, heightened political partisanship or, most likely, some combination of these and other factors. In 2021, FOIAs processed by the federal government rose to 838,688 – continuing a trend interrupted only by the pandemic, before which requests increased 32% from 2012 to 2019. Along with the rise, the government’s backlog has swelled by 97% from 2012 to 2020.

And so, among the FOIA requesters who spoke to RCI – journalists, transparency advocates, FOIA lawyers and others – some were willing to cut bureaucrats slack for possibly having good-faith reasons to impose additional burdens, but nearly all were united in their frustration with how the FOIA law functions. They see a tool of transparency and accountability operating as one of obfuscation that protects the powerful through arbitrary, inconsistent, and inefficient administration.

Empower Oversight, led by Jason Foster, former chief investigative counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, is suing the Biden SEC over perceived FOIA intransigence. In a recent statement, Foster cited the “SEC’s pattern of bad faith negotiations on search terms and history of incomplete productions.”

Read the full article HERE.