Public Citizen, Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security

Topic(s): 
Government Transparency — FOIA
Documents:
Case Description: 

Generally speaking, a corporate inversion occurs when a U.S. corporation moves its residence abroad, thereby lowering the amount of taxes it owes. A provision of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from awarding contracts to so-called “inverted” corporations unless they get a national security waiver. However, in July 2015, Bloomberg News reported that the Department of Homeland Security had endorsed a legal argument that the ban on awarding contracts to inverted companies was invalid. This legal argument was advanced in a memorandum submitted by a corporation to Homeland Security. Bloomberg News revealed that it had received a copy of the memorandum from the corporation on the condition that the news organization not publish the memo and that it drop its attempt to get the memo through a public records request.

Public Citizen filed a FOIA request with Homeland Security for a copy of the memo and related documents. The agency did not substantively respond to the request and Public Citizen filed suit to obtain the documents.

Five months after Public Citizen filed suit, DHS released to Public Citizen an unredacted copy of the memo, as well as related documents.