The following information is from Empower Oversight.
Empower Oversight recently filed an administrative appeal challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) claim that “no responsive records exist” in several categories of Empower Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
In August 2021, Empower Oversight filed a FOIA request regarding any conflicts of interest with cryptocurrencies at the SEC, where some cryptocurrencies may have been promoted over others. This led to a denial of a fee waiver, which was quickly appealed and overturned.
According to Empower Oversight, the SEC’s claim that it “conducted a thorough search of the SEC’s various system of records” regarding conflicts of interest with cryptocurrencies is unsupported. The SEC failed to describe the scope of its searches. Neither Empower Oversight nor the public can be assured that the SEC took proper steps to locate and produce responsive documents.
In its administrative appeal, Empower Oversight is requesting the SEC to review the SEC FOIA Research Specialists’ searches, report any deficiencies if found, and provide sworn affidavits describing the searches in detail if the SEC still claims that no records exist.
After months of no response from the SEC, Empower Oversight filed a lawsuit to compel the SEC to comply with its FOIA requests. That litigation remains pending in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The SEC’s response to Empower Oversight’s lawsuit is due February 11, 2022.