FOIA Update
March 5, 2024

WASHINGTON – Empower Oversight has filed the third in a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the FBI’s retaliation against whistleblower Marcus Allen by denying him any source of income while suspended without pay.  The FOIA request seeks documents related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) delaying an entire year before allowing Allen to sell a Prayer Journal completely unrelated to his position at the FBI.

The FBI suspended Allen’s security clearance and paycheck in reprisal for protected whistleblowing. During that time he has lost other employment and income opportunities while waiting for FBI approvals and internal appeals procedures that have been slow-walked by FBI bureaucrats.

The Prayer Journal was an attempt to minimize the financial strain caused by his suspension and contained no information about the FBI or Allen’s employment at the Bureau.

The previous two FOIA requests sought documents related to the FBI blocking Allen’s attempt to obtain outside employment and its refusal to allow Allen’s family to accept charitable contributions solicited by others to assist them in their time of need, causing them significant financial harm.

Despite being suspended indefinitely without pay and suspended from FBI duties, the FBI asserts that Allen is an employee and therefore it must approve outside income. Neither the FBI, nor the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Ethics Office have explained how Allen meets the statutory definition of an employee when he is suspended from FBI duties and is not being paid by the FBI.

In a letter requesting the information, Tristan Leavitt, President of Empower, wrote,

“Although the FBI ultimately gave Mr. Allen permission to sell a prayer journal that had nothing to do with the FBI, it took the FBI more than a year to do so. The FBI’s actions were an unlawful prior restraint on his free speech in violation of the First Amendment. Furthermore, part of the OIC’s concerns about Mr. Allen were its claim that he was still an employee and subject to outside employment restrictions. However, as discussed above, under the statutory definition of a federal employee, Mr. Allen is not an employee while he is suspended from duty.”

After a year of delay and inquiries by Allen’s attorneys, the FBI finally approved the sale of the journal on October 18, 2023.  It is now available for purchase here.

The full FOIA request letter can be found here.  Empower is representing Allen with the American Center for Law and Justice.