WILL Press Release | WILL Files FOIA Lawsuit Against U.S. Department of Justice
Seeks to obtain records relating to baseless Obama DOJ probe into the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
March 16, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Sunshine Week (March 12-18, 2017) is a national celebration of the public’s right to access information about the government. Across the country, open government advocates are holding events and educating people about their right to know. Even politicians and other government officials get on board – for example, Governor Walker recently issued an executive order increasing government information available online and limiting the fees state agencies can charge for responding to record requests.
But not all levels of government are on board with the idea of easy public access to records. Federal agencies are notorious for the glacial pace at which they fulfill requests. For instance, WILL waited almost two years to get records from the IRS related to its settlement of a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation attacking preachers’ sermons.
This time, we’re not waiting that long. On January 14, 2016, WILL filed a FOIA request with the United States Department of Justice seeking records related to the Obama Administration’s 4-year-long investigation into whether the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) violates federal disability law. Attorneys at WILL had called the investigation baseless and unprecedented. It was also attacked by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and criticized by syndicated columnist George Will. In the end, the DOJ’s investigation found no wrongdoing by the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program or any private school.
WILL’s request for records related to the investigation has been ignored for more than 14 months. As the Associated Press reported, the Obama Administration has sunk to record lows in responding to FOIA requests. The Obama Administration spent a record $36.2 million last year defending its failures to abide by the Freedom of Information Act in court. Like so many other organizations, we had to file suit to compel the DOJ to turn over its records.