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USPS FOIA Complaint 1-5-12

USPS FOIA Complaint 1-5-12

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07/10/2013

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 1
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 
123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627Z
ACKERY
P.
 
M
ORAZZINI
(State Bar No.
 
204237)General CounselG
ARY
S.
 
W
INUK 
(State Bar No.
 
190313)Chief, Enforcement DivisionH
EATHER 
M.
 
OWAN
(State Bar No.
 
232415)Commission Counsel
FAIR POLITICAL PRACTICES COMMISSION
428 J Street, Suite 620Sacramento, CA 95814Telephone: (916) 322-5660Facsimile: (916) 322-1932E-mail: ZMorazzini@fppc.ca.gov
 Attorneys for Plaintiff  Fair Political Practices Commission
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
FAIR POLITICAL PRACTICESCOMMISSION,
AN
A
GENCY OF THE
S
TATE OF
C
ALIFORNIA
,
Plaintiff,
v.UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE,
Defendant.Case No.:
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY ANDINJUNCTIVE RELIEF FOR VIOLATIONOF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATIONACT, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq.INTRODUCTION
 1.
 
This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, asamended, challenging the United States Postal Service¶s (the ³USPS´) improper withholding of agency records concerning the number of pieces of United States mail that a candidate in a Californialocal election mailed out on certain dates.2.
 
This action seeks declaratory relief that defendant USPS violated FOIA by improperlywithholding the requested records, and injunctive relief ordering the USPS to immediately makeavailable and produce the requested records in their entirety without claiming any exemptions.
 
 2
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 
123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627
PARTIES
 3.
 
Plaintiff Fair Political Practices Commission (the ³FPPC´) is an agency of the State of California. Cal. Gov¶t Code § 83100. The FPPC has primary responsibility for the impartial, effectiveadministration and implementation of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (the Act).
1
 
 Id 
. § 83111.Pursuant to the Act, the FPPC regulates the political activities of public officials, contributors,campaign committees, lobbyists, and other groups to ensure compliance with campaign reporting anddisclosure requirements, conflicts of interest regulations, and contribution limits to ensure thatcontributions are fully and truthfully disclosed to the public so that voters may be better informed andimproper practices may be inhibited. Among other things, the FPPC is charged with investigating possible violations of the Act and bringing enforcement proceedings when it determines there is probable cause to believe a violation of the Act has occurred.
 Id 
. §§ 83115-83116.4.
 
Defendant USPS is an agency within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. § 552 and 5 U.S.C. § 702.The USPS is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the federal government chargedwith running the postal services of the United States. 39 U.S.C. §§ 201, 403. The USPS may sue and be sued in its official name.
 Id 
. § 401.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
 5.
 
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action and personal jurisdiction over the USPS pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(a)(4)(B) and 552(a)(6)(C)(I). This Court also has federalquestion jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.6.
 
Federal courts have jurisdiction over FOIA actions under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B.). Thatsection states, in pertinent part: ³On complaint, the district court of the United States in the district inwhich the complainant resides, or has his principal place of business, or in which the agency recordsare situated, or in the District
 
of Columbia, has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from withholdingagency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from thecomplainant.´
1
The Political Reform Act is contained in California Government Code sections 81000 through 91014. All further statutory references are to the Government Code, unless otherwise indicated. The regulations of the Fair Political PracticesCommission are contained in sections 18110 through 18997 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations. All regulatoryreferences are to Title 2, Division 6 of the California Code of Regulations, unless otherwise indicated.
 
 
 3
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 
1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526277.
 
Venue lies in this district under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). The FPPC¶s principal place of  business is in Sacramento, which is in the Eastern District of California.
FACTS
 8.
 
On November 10, 2008, the FPPC received a sworn complaint against William Eisen(Respondent) alleging violations of the mass mailing provisions of the Act in connection with a localCalifornia campaign. The complaint specifically alleged that Respondent produced and distributedmass mailings that contained improper sender identification information in violation of CaliforniaGovernment Code Section 84305.9.
 
California¶s mass mailing restrictions provide, in part, that ³no candidate or committeeshall send a mass mailing unless the name, street address, and city of the candidate or committee areshown on the outside of each piece of mail in the mass mailing and on at least one of the insertsincluded within each piece of mail of the mailing in no less than 6-point type which shall be in a color or print which contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible.´ Cal. Gov¶t Code § 84305.The California Supreme Court has unequivocally held that the mass mailing prohibitions serve thecompelling state interests of providing the voters with information to aid them in making their choicesat the ballot box, ³the ultimate expression of their First Amendment rights,´ and preventing corruptionof the electoral process.
G
riset v. Fair Political Practices Comm¶n
, 8 Cal. 4th 851, 862-66 (1994).10.
 
Further investigation revealed evidence that Respondent produced and sent two separatemailings opposing his recall in the November 2008 election. Instead of properly identifying himself asthe sender, Respondent falsely indicated that a taxpayers¶ association and regional political club wereresponsible for the mailers. Respondent rented and controlled post office boxes and sent out themailings using his bulk mail account from the USPS.11.
 
In order to vigorously enforce the provisions of the Act, the FPPC may subpoenawitnesses, compel their attendance and testimony, administer oaths and affirmations, take evidence,and require by subpoena the production of any books, papers, records or other items material to the performance of the Commission¶s duties or exercise of its powers. Cal. Gov¶t Code §§ 81002, 83118.

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