April 11, 2018
As a Result of Public Citizen Lawsuit, the Trump Administration Is Releasing Visitor Logs for Four Agencies in the White House Complex
Records on Thousands of Visits Are Released
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a result of a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen, the government has started to post visitor logs for four agencies in the White House complex.
The information release is the result of a settlement with Public Citizen that the Trump administration agreed to on Feb. 13.
Posted late Tuesday were February visitor logs for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Logs for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are to be posted soon.
The records show that Myron Ebell and Marlo Lewis, both ardent opponents of policies to combat climate change and both of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, met with OMB. Other lobbyists, trade group officials and industry advocates who visited OMB include David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation, Jim Tozzi of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, Lee Janger of the Alliance for Vehicle Efficiency, Laurie Holmes of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and Hudson Hollister, founder of the Data Coalition.
Also reflected in the OMB logs is a visit by Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.
OMB’s listing has about 2,000 entries, with 534 redacted, 474 of them under an exemption for personal privacy. OSTP provided about 650 entries and redacted 75, 17 of those for personal privacy. CEQ provided about 100 entries and redacted six, all under the personal privacy exemption.
Public Citizen is skeptical that all of the redactions are proper under FOIA and intends to raise the issue with the agencies.
Some of the entries appear to be multiple listings for the same person and meeting. Many of the visitors listed are staffers for government agencies.
“The public now can see who is visiting these four agencies, as they should have been able to see all along,” Weissman said. “Now we’ll at least have a window into the corporate and ideological lobbyists who are driving Trump administration policy.”
In the suit, filed in August, Public Citizen alleged that the administration was violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) because it refused to release information about visitors to OMB, OSTP, ONDCP and CEQ. The D.C. Circuit in 2013 held that visitor logs from those agencies were agency records subject to release under FOIA.
“The government should not have been withholding the visitor logs we requested,” said Adina Rosenbaum, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “We are pleased that the public will finally have access to these valuable records, although we are concerned about the records that have been redacted.”
Under the settlement, the Secret Service must send the records to the White House every month. The White House has a week to sort through them and send them to the agencies. The agencies then have a month to post them. Visitor logs from the past year will be released over the next several months.