In September 2017, Public Citizen sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requesting documents related to the costs of travel and personal security for two HUD secretaries: current HUD Secretary Ben Carson and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The cost of travel and security for members of the Trump Administration has been a subject of considerable public attention and interest. In making the FOIA request, Public Citizen requested a waiver of fees for searching and copying, noting that the statutory considerations for granting a fee waiver—the documents sought were not for a commercial purpose, but to inform the public about a matter of public interest—were met. HUD, however, denied the fee waiver request and failed to produce the requested records.
Public Citizen filed suit challenging the denial of the fee waiver and seeking disclosure of the requested records. After the lawsuit was filed, HUD produced responsive records to Public Citizen, without charging any fees, and the lawsuit was dismissed.