Obama Administration Spent Record Millions in 2016 Fighting Freedom of Information Act Requests

President Barack Obama and Vice President joe Biden (Pool/Getty Images)

In its final year, the Obama administration spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an analysis of U.S. data conducted by the Associated Press.

AP reports that for the second year in a row, the Obama administration also set a record for the number of times federal employees told those seeking information under FOIA requests that “despite searching they couldn’t find a single page of files that were requested.” In addition, the administration set records for “outright denying access to files and refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy.”


AP reports that on Monday it “settled its 2015 lawsuit against the State Department for files about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state and received $150,546 from the department to cover part of its legal fees.”

RT reports that the AP data shows that the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense received more than half the total FOIA requests in 2016 and spent $12 million, $6.3 million and $4.8 million, respectively, to keep their files from the public.

In addition, 77 percent of people who requested records in 2016 received partly or fully redacted files, compared with 65 percent in 2009.

AP analyzed the data for “Sunshine Week,” an annual event organized each March by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public on the importance of open government.


Read more at U.S. News & World Report and RT.

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Monique Judge

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.