In a move guaranteed to discourage further requests for records, the DOJ has slapped a non-profit organization with a $50,000 fee to search for records that they then claimed were non-existent and never produced.
“So much for the public’s free right to know about government decisions and actions,” says Judicial Watch.
Last fall, Judicial Watch requested records from the Department of Justice under the “Freedom of Information Act” relating to a joint plan between the Obama’s administration and the United Nations to put U.S. law enforcement under international law, called “Strong Cities Network”.
The plan was made public when Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced it during a UN speech on September 2015. She referred to it as a “truly groundbreaking endeavor.”
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request on October 15, 2015 for documents related to SCN. Here’s what happened next:
The request reminds the agency that, under the OPEN Government Act, Judicial Watch is entitled to a complete waiver of search and duplication fees if records aren’t produced within 20 business days.
On July 29, 2016, long after the deadline to produce the records, the DOJ sent Judicial Watch a $50,000 invoice for search fees, though not a single file was produced.
The invoice, which lists Rashad Javaid as the DOJ official that “fulfilled” the request, doesn’t offer a breakdown and erroneously categorizes Judicial Watch as a “commercial” entity when in fact all government agencies know well that Judicial Watch is a nonprofit under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code. After all, Judicial Watch has been around for 22 years and all FOIA requests state clearly that it’s a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that by definition has no commercial purpose. Last week Judicial Watch appealed the preposterous DOJ invoice.
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