GAO Files Suit Against Department of Interior

FOIA suit seeks records concerning leaks, coordination of staff with outside parties, possible improper removal of records

For immediate release.

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C. (GAO), filed suit against the Department of the Interior on behalf of the public policy transparency group Energy Policy Advocates (EPA). This federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeks records relating to the tenure of a senior Interior official who recently departed to work for the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, a body which has ramped up investigations of its new hire’s former employer and colleagues. 

EPA believes the information it seeks may be related to high-profile leaks out of Interior, and to certain aspects of and demands by those subsequent congressional investigations. There has been widespread media and public interest in those matters. 

Chris Horner, who filed suit for GAO, noted that

“Today’s suit comes amid information, already in the public domain, suggesting a larger, coordinated effort under way to prompt investigations into individuals in numerous agencies including Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.” Horner continued, “That campaign regularly alleges coordination by public officials with outside interests, seemingly to delegitimize all policy actions with which the particular officials are associated. Similarly, the records EPA seeks in this suit are of great public interest.”

That campaign also is occurring amid revelations of activist donors placing their own employees in law enforcement officesat the state level to pursue the donors’ agenda, attorneys general instigating investigations at the urging of plaintiffs’ lawyers, issues which GAO is at the forefront of exposing. Further, activists are ‘doxxing’ and otherwise harassing public employees who dare pursue policy reforms, reflecting a disturbing trend, discouraging qualified citizens with useful experience from entering public service. This proxy war also blocks reforms, with serious policy and legal implications. 

Interior owed EPA responses to these requests in May, after having also afforded itself extensions of time. It has failed to provide any substantive response, prompting today’s suit.

Government Accountability & Oversight is a 501(c)3 non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to transparency in government on matters of energy, environment and law enforcement.

The lawsuit filed today is here:

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