Tea party scandal brews FOIA backlog at FEC

Tea party scandal brews FOIA backlog at FEC

Congress has recently inundated the Federal Election Commission with demands for information connected to the Internal Revenue Service tea party targeting scandal & the unrelated political activities of a former FEC employee.

The result: Dramatically delayed responses to Freedom of Information Act requests logged by members of the press & public who seek unpublicized information from the FEC — the federal government's election law enforcer & regulator.

"The agency has been receiving a higher than normal volume of FOIA requests recently, which is impacting our response times," FEC staffer Deborah Foresman wrote today in response to questions approximately the status of a Center for Public Integrity FOIA request filed on May 1 that seeks various agency emails.

p>The FEC on May 19 promised in writing to respond to the Center for Public Integrity's request by June 13 — saying it needed time to "appropriately examine a large quantity of separate & distinct potentially responsive records."

The FEC has yet to produce the records, & until today, the agency had not communicated approximately the request for nearly two months.

Related: How Washington starves its election watchdog

By law, the FEC has 20 business days to respond to FOIA requests. During its 2013 fiscal year, it took the FEC an average of 16.3 days to process "simple" FOIA requests, the agency stated in a recent report.

Asked what people or entities are responsible for the workload uptick resulting in FOIA request delays, FEC Vice Chairman Ann Ravel pointed to Capitol Hill.

"The FEC has received many requests & subpoenas from congressional committees," Ravel said. "Attorneys have been detailed to work on reviews of documents & emails."

Ravel added that the FEC — already strapped for funding & resources — has invested in new software to process "the large number of emails going back many years to be able to expedite the process."

FEC Chairman Lee Goodman & the FEC press office did not immediately return requests for comment.

Related: Hobbled IRS can't stem 'dark money' flow

There’s more to this story. Click here to read the rest at the Center for Public Integrity.

This story is part of Primary Source. Primary Source keeps you up-to-date on developments in the post-Citizens United world of money in politics. Click here to read more stories in this blog.

Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

Politics & GovernmentElections

Source: “Center for Public Integrity”

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