President Obama hailed his administration for its transparency in February 2014, saying “This is the most transparent administration in history.”
Too bad his message got lost in the email.
The White House is now exempting its Office of Administration from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) saying office doesn’t have to comply with the law because it only provides administrative support and business services to the president’s executive office. The rule change means there’ll no longer be a formal process for the public to ask that the White House voluntarily disclose records as part of what’s known as a “discretionary disclosure.”
Furthermore the White House said it was not allowing a 30-day public comment period, and so the rule change is final. It’s because of a FOIA request that it was discovered Hillary Clinton’s “personal” government-business emails were not stored on a federally operated server.
The timing of the announcement amounts to another ‘optics’ problem for the White House as President James Madison’s birthday, March 16th is known as ‘National Freedom of Information Day.’ The White House did not respond to questions about the timing of the official rule change, but did note that Obama won an award from the organizing groups of Sunshine Week in 2011 for his policies.
Don’t worry though, because at least in theory, we’ll be able to see all of Obama’s “personal” government-business emails beginning in January 2021.