CREW Responds to Court Ruling That White House Office of Administration is not an Agency
Washington, D.C. – Today, D.C. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an opinion in CREW v. Office of Administration, finding that the Office of Administration (OA) is not an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In May 2007, CREW sued OA for records regarding missing White House e-mail and the office’s assessment of the scope of the problem. After initially agreeing to provide records, OA changed course and claimed it was not an agency and, therefore, had no obligation to comply with the FOIA. OA made this claim despite the fact that even the White House’s own website described OA as an agency and included regulations for processing FOIA requests.
While acknowledging the question is a close one, Judge Kollar-Kotelly has found that OA is not an agency on the grounds that it does not exercise substantial independent authority.
OA has admitted that it functioned as an agency and processed FOIA requests until August 2007. Although CREW filed its FOIA request in April 2007 – four months before OA changed its position – the court found that OA had no duty to respond to CREW’s FOIA request because OA was never an agency in the first place.
CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan said today, “We are disappointed in the ruling and believe the judge reached the wrong legal conclusion. CREW has appealed the decision.” Sloan continued, “The Bush administration is using the legal system to prevent the American people from discovering the truth about the millions of missing White House e-mails. The fact is, until CREW asked for documents pertaining to this problem, the Office of Administration routinely processed FOIA requests. Only because the administration has so much to hide here, has the White House taken the unprecedented position that OA is not subject to the FOIA.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org