CREW Sues Secret Service Over Refusal to Release White House Health Care Execs Visitor Log
Washington, D.C. - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security based on the refusal of the Secret Service to provide CREW with White House visitor records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). CREW is seeking records of visits by top health care executives in an effort to learn the extent to which these industry players may have influenced the administration’s health care policy.
Simultaneously, CREW is requesting emergency relief in the form of a preliminary injunction compelling the Secret Service to process the request on an expedited basis, in view of the great public interest and debate on health care policy and the pressure on Congress to pass legislation before the August recess.
In response to CREW’s FOIA request, the Obama administration has taken the same position as the Bush administration that the records are presidential, not agency records, and that they are exempt from release because of the possibility in some instances they could reveal information protected by the presidential communications privilege. Although the White House suggested it was reviewing its policy on the release of visitor logs last month when CREW filed a similar complaint based on its request for records of visits by top coal company executives, it has to date refused to make even a discretionary release of any of the requested records. Every court to rule on the issue so far has concluded the visitor records are agency records that must be disclosed under the FOIA.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “Right now, the White House and Congress are debating colossal changes to the American health care system and taxpayers have a right to know who is sitting at the table influencing decision-makers. Unfortunately, the administration is refusing to release the names, preferring backroom politicking to transparency.”
Read CREW's complaint and request for a preliminary injuction in the Related Documents section on the right. Click here to read the original FOIA request to the Secret Service.
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 email@example.com