CREW Sues the Dept. of Interior Over Abramoff Documents
Washington, DC - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Department of the Interior (DOI) over its failure to provide requested documents related to Jack Abramoff and the Indian gaming scandal.
Last spring, CREW sent three FOIA requests to the DOI. On March 18, 2005, CREW requested all contacts that any employee of DOI may have had with Mr. Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Italia Federici and a host of others who may have had dealings with Mr. Abramoff. The DOI made several partial responses to CREW.
Not satisfied with DOI’s response, CREW sent two additional FOIAs to DOI. On April 5, 2005 CREW requested records from Secretary Gale Norton, former Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles as well as 16 others relevant colleagues. Additionally, CREW requested records from a number of other DOI employees.
In response, DOI claimed it was unable to locate any records responsive to CREW’s request. But on August 28, 2005, The Washington Post ran a story referring to DOI materials that had not been provided to CREW. In addition, on November 2, 2005, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee released emails, which DOI failed to provide to CREW, concerning contacts between Mr. Abramoff and Interior Department officials.
CREW sent a third FOIA to DOI on April 21, 2005 – this one directed specifically at the Bureau of Indian Affairs – but DOI failed to respond to that request.
“In the midst of one of the largest government corruption scandals ever, the Department of Interior has decided to simply ignore federal law by failing to comply with FOIA requests,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. “FOIA law is clear, agencies cannot cherry pick to whom they release their documents. This Administration has a pattern of violating FOIA law to keep the government’s actions hidden from view. It is not right, it is not legal, and we will fight it every step of the way.”