Visitor logs from four key White House complex agencies are made public

As a result of a Public Citizen lawsuit, the government is posting visitor logs from four key agencies once a month.

  • 4 White House complex agencies are making their visitor logs public.
  • 3 Number of Freedom of Information Act requests Public Citizen filed.
  • 2,135 Entries were made public the first month.

In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the visitor logs for four key agencies in the White House complex – the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) – are subject to FOIA, as they are not part of the president’s office.

In April 2017, Public Citizen submitted its first FOIA request to the Secret Service for visitor logs documenting visits to the four agencies. We submitted two more FOIAs over the next four months.

The Secret Service rejected or ignored all three FOIAs. After the first request, the agency also forwarded all of the documents to the White House Office of Records Management and the agency destroyed its own copies. Documents at the White House Office of Records Management are not subject to FOIA.

In August 2017, Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the Secret Service.

The lawsuit was settled in February 2018, with the government agreeing to post visitor logs for the four agencies monthly. In April 2018, the first batch of logs were posted. Under the settlement, the Secret Service agreed that it would send the records to the White House every month. The White House has a week to sort through them and send them back. The agencies then have one month to make them public information. Visitor logs are now being posted publicly every month.

The Trump administration aimed to keep secret the names of the people visiting the White House in order to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government. Now we’ll at least have a window into the corporate and ideological lobbyists who are driving Trump administration policy. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman

Highlights

  • Public Citizen sued the Trump administration on Aug. 17, 2017, after three Freedom of Information Act requests attempting to obtain visitor logs were rejected or ignored.
  • In 2013, a federal appellate court ruled that the visitor logs from these agencies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Public Citizen won the suit, so now four agencies – The Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Council on Environmental Quality and Office of National Drug Control Policy – must release their visitor logs once a month.