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FOIA Request - CREW: FEC: Regarding FEC Commissioners' Communications: 3/7/2011 - FEC FOIA

FOIA Request - CREW: FEC: Regarding FEC Commissioners' Communications: 3/7/2011 - FEC FOIA

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Published by CREW
On March 7th, 2011, CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking records that will shed light on communications three commissioners had with parties outside of the FEC. FEC rules forbid commissioners from engaging in ex parte communications – private communications with parties with business before the commission, such as enforcement actions, audits, advisory opinions, rulemaking proceedings, and lawsuits. Any time a commissioner receives an ex parte communication, he or she is required to deliver it to an FEC ethics officer, or write a statement describing the communication if it is oral.
On March 7th, 2011, CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking records that will shed light on communications three commissioners had with parties outside of the FEC. FEC rules forbid commissioners from engaging in ex parte communications – private communications with parties with business before the commission, such as enforcement actions, audits, advisory opinions, rulemaking proceedings, and lawsuits. Any time a commissioner receives an ex parte communication, he or she is required to deliver it to an FEC ethics officer, or write a statement describing the communication if it is oral.

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Published by: CREW on Mar 08, 2011
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CREW
I
citizensforresponsibilityandethicsinwashington
March7,2011
Byfacsimile:202-219-1043
FederalElectionCommissionAttn:FOIARequesterServiceCenterRoom408999EStreet,N.W.Washington,D.C.20463
Re:FreedomofInformationActRequest
DearSir/Madam:CitizensforResponsibilityandEthicsinWashington("CREW")makesthisrequestforrecords,regardlessofformat,medium,orphysicalcharacteristics,andincludingelectronicrecordsandinformation,audiotapes,videotapesandphotographs,pursuanttotheFreedomofInformationAct("FOIA"),5U.S.C.§§552,
etseq.,
andFederalElectionCommission("FEC")regulations,11C.F.R.Part4.Specifically,CREWrequestsallcorrespondencerelatedtoanyandallFECbusinessbetweenCommissionersMatthewS.Peterson,CarolineC.Hunter,orDonaldF.McGhanIIandanyindividualorentityoutsideoftheFECfromthedateeachcommissionertookofficetothepresent.CREWfurtherrequestsallcalendars,agendas,orotherrecordationsoftheschedulesofCommissionersPeterson,Hunter,andMcGhan.Thisrequestincludes,butisnotlimitedto,anypaperorelectronicdocumentsthatrecordorotherwisekeeptrackofthecommissioners'appointments,meetings,events,andtelephonecalls,whethertheyaremaintaineddirectlybyeachcommissionerorbysomeoneactingontheirbehalf.CREWfurtherrequestsallwritten
exparte
communicationsdeliveredtoanFECethicsofficerorDesignatedAgencyEthicsOfficial("DAEO")(collectively,"ethicsofficial")byCommissionersPeterson,Hunter,andMcGhanorbysomeoneactingontheirbehalfpursuantto11C.F.R.§§7.15(c),201.3(c),201.4(a).CREWalsorequestsallstatementssettingforththesubstanceandcircumstancesofanyoral
exparte
communicationpreparedbyanyofthesecommissionersorbysomeoneactingontheirbehalfanddeliveredtoanethicsofficialpursuantto11C.F.R.§§7.15(d),201.3(c),201.4(a).CREWlimitsitsrequestsforwritten
exparte
communicationsandstatementssettingforththesubstanceandcircumstancesoforal
exparte
communicationstorecordsinthepossessionofanethicsofficial.Pleasesearchforresponsiverecordsregardlessofformat,medium,orphysicalcharacteristics.Wherepossible,pleaseproducerecordselectronically,inPDFformatwithOCR
1400EyeStreet,
uw,
Suite450,Washington,D.C.20005
I
202.408.5565phone
I
202.588.5020fax
I
®~;
 
FederalElectionCommissionMarch7,2011Page2textrecognitionandonaCD-ROM.Weseekrecordsofanykind,includingelectronicrecords,audiotapes,videotapes,andphotographs.Ourrequestincludesanyletters,emails,facsimiles,telephonemessages,voicemailmessages,andtranscripts,notes,orminutesofanymeetings,telephoneconversations,ordiscussions.Ourrequestalsoincludesanyattachmentstotheserecords.Foranyemail,pleaseproducemetadataand/orheadersthatshowtheemailaddressofthesenderandanyrecipientinadditiontotheirdisplayname,thenamesandemailaddressesofany"bcc:"recipients,andanydataregardingthetimeanddatetheemailwassent,received,and/oropened.Ifitisyourpositionthatanyportionoftherequestedrecordsisexemptfromdisclosure,CREWrequeststhatyouprovideitwithanindexofthosedocumentsasrequiredunder
Vaughn
v.
Rosen,
484F.2d820(D.C.Cir.1973),
cert.denied,
415U.S.977(1972).Asyouareaware,a
Vaughn
indexmustdescribeeachdocumentclaimedasexemptwithsufficientspecificity"topermitareasonedjudgmentastowhetherthematerialisactuallyexemptunderFOIA."
FoundingChurchofScientology
v.
Bell,
603F.2d945,949(D.C.Cir.1979).Moreover,the
Vaughn
indexmust"describeeachdocumentorportionthereofwithheld,andfor
each
withholdingitmustdiscusstheconsequencesofsupplyingthesought-afterinformation."
King
v.
Us.Dep
't
ofJustice,
830F.2d210,223-24(D.C.Cir.1987)(emphasisadded).Further,"thewithholdingagencymustsupply'arelativelydetailedjustification,specificallyidentifyingthereasonswhyaparticularexemptionisrelevantandcorrelatingthoseclaimswiththeparticularpartofawithhelddocumenttowhichtheyapply.'"
Id.
at224(citing
MeadDataCentral
v.
Us.Dep
't
oftheAirForce,
566F.2d242,251(D.C.Cir.1977».Intheeventsomeportionsoftherequestedrecordsareproperlyexemptfromdisclosure,pleasediscloseanyreasonablysegregablenon-exemptportionsoftherequestedrecords.
See5
U.S.c.§552(b).Ifitisyourpositionthatadocumentcontainsnon-exemptsegments,butthatthosenon-exemptsegmentsaresodispersedthroughoutthedocumentastomakesegregationimpossible,pleasestatewhatportionofthedocumentisnon-exempt,andhowthematerialisdispersedthroughoutthedocument.
MeadDataCentral,
566F.2dat261.Claimsofnonsegregabilitymustbemadewiththesamedegreeofdetailasrequiredforclaimsofexemptionsina
Vaughn
index.Ifarequestisdeniedinwhole,pleasestatespecificallythatitisnotreasonabletosegregateportionsoftherecordforrelease.Finally,CREWwelcomestheopportunitytodiscusswithyouwhetherandtowhatextentthisrequestcanbenarrowedormodifiedtobetterenabletheFECtoprocessitwithintheFOIA'sdeadlines.AdamJ.Rappaport,theCREWattorneyhandlingthismatter,canbereachedat(202)408-5565orarappapOli({v,citizensforethics.org.
 
FederalElectionCommissionMarch7,2011Page3
FeeWaiverRequest
Inaccordancewith5U.S.C.§552(a)(4)(A)(iii)and11C.F.R.§4.9,CREWrequestsawaiveroffeesassociatedwithprocessingthisrequestforrecords.Thesubjectofthisrequestconcernstheoperationsofthefederalgovernmentandexpenditures,andthedisclosureswilllikelycontributetoabetterunderstandingofrelevantgovernmentproceduresbyCREWandthegeneralpublicinasignificantway.Moreover,therequestisprimarilyandfundamentallyfornon-commercialpurposes.5U.S.C.§552(a)(4)(A)(iii).
See,e.g.,McClellanEcological
v.
Carlucci,
835F.2d1282,1285(9thCir.1987).Specifically,theserecordsarelikelytocontributetogreaterpublicawarenessof
exparte
communicationsbetweenFECcommissionersandpartieswithbusinessbeforetheFEC.FECregulationsforbidcommissionersfromengagingin
exparte
communicationswithpartieswithbusinessbeforetheFEC,includingenforcementactions,applicationsforpublicfunding,audits,litigation,rulemakingproceedings,andadvisoryopinions.11C.F.R.§§7.15,111.22,201.1-201.5.Anywritten
exparte
communicationreceivedbyacommissioneroremployeemustbedeliveredtoanFECethicsofficerorDAEOandplacedinthefileoftheenforcementcase,fundingrequest,audit,litigationcase,rulemaking,oradvisoryopinion,andanycommissionersandemployeesmustdeliverstatementssettingforththesubstanceandcircumstancesoforal
exparte
communicationstotheethicsofficialforplacementintheappropriatefile.11C.F.R.§§7.15(c)-(d),201.3(c),201.4(a).Therequesteddocumentswouldshedlightontheextentof
exparte
communicationsandwhethercommissionersarecomplyingwiththeirstatutoryobligationtodeliverthecommunicationsandprepareanddeliverstatementsaboutthemtoethicsofficials.TheactionstodateofCommissionersPeterson,Hunter,andMcGhan,especiallytheirrefusalinthevastmajorityofenforcementmattersbeforethemtoenforcethelawstheyarechargedwithenforcing,raiseseriousquestionsofwhethertheyarecomplyingwiththeirlegalandethicalobligations.Therequesteddocumentswouldassistinansweringthesequestionsofpublicaccountability.CREWisanon-profitcorporation,organizedundersection501(c)(3)oftheInternalRevenueCode.CREWiscommittedtoprotectingthepublic'srighttobeawareoftheactivitiesofgovernmentofficialsandtoensuringtheintegrityofthoseofficials.CREWusesacombinationofresearch,litigation,andadvocacytoadvanceitsmission.ThereleaseofinformationgarneredthroughthisrequestisnotinCREW'sfinancialinterest.CREWwillanalyzetheinformationresponsivetothisrequest,andwillshareitsanalysiswiththepublic,eitherthroughmemoranda,reports,orpressreleases.Inaddition,CREWwilldisseminateanydocumentsitacquiresfromthisrequesttothepublicthroughitswebsite,www.citizensforethics.org,whichalsoincludeslinkstothousandsofpagesofdocumentsCREWacquiredthroughitsmultipleFOIArequestsaswellasdocumentsrelatedtoCREW'slitigationandagencycomplaints,andthroughwww.scribd.com.

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