No information FOIA you

Associated Press reports the Obama administration is keeping more information hidden from the public than did the Bush administration by employing "exceptions" to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FOIAstatutes, which are designed to keep government accountable, are increasingly being abused or violated even at the state level. In fact, unlawful FOIA methods are often employed to evade constitutional or other legal safeguards against abuse of power, thereby compounding illegalities by the government.

I'll give you a recent example. I wrote to one state official's office about a statute they claimed to be enforcing against a nonprofit organization. I asked that official where his office found the legal authority for actions taken and demands made by his office. I gave six examples of actions taken by that office that appeared unsupported by the state statute his office claimed to be enforcing, and asked that official to identify the statutory authority for each action taken. I noted the actions seemed to violate constitutional safeguards in addition to seeming unsupported by the statute.

Later I received a letter from the FOIA coordinator of that official's office stating my "request is granted in part and denied in part." That's odd, since the information I asked for did not fall under the FOIA statute, but merely asked for what the office deemed its statutory authority for its actions. FOIA covers information, not statutory reasons.

The FOIA coordinator then indicated I would need to deposit a check for $743,947.85, which was one-half the FOIA processing fee, for her to process my request.

The difference between criminals who violate the law and government officials who violate the law is that the criminals are usually smarter.

After receiving that demand for a deposit, I wrote a letter to the head of this state office stating I could file suit and get answers under oath to my six questions for far, far less than what his office demanded under its unlawful use of the FOIA statute.

I also informed this state official that since his office has already demonstrated to me its willingness to violate the FOIA statute, in that lawsuit I could also get free discovery of every FOIA violation by his office.

In other words, crooked officials have learned to evade FOIA to cover up other unlawful activities. Worse, government officials attempt to extort money from people who are trying to get information to which they are entitled.

FOIA has become a joke.