A Vice News reporter filed a lawsuit Sunday against the State Department for withholding records on Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the latest of several complaints lodged against the department for stonewalling Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the former first lady.
Jason Leopold, an investigate reporter for Vice News, alleges in his FOIA lawsuit that the State Department failed to give a final response to his records request and also denied his request for expedited processing. Leopold filed the request, seeking all records on Clinton maintained by the department, in November 2014.
Many news agencies and advocacy groups have been trying to get State Department documents about Clinton with little success, leading to accusations that the stonewall is politically motivated.
The AP reported in December 2014 that it had several outstanding FOIA requests on Clinton’s schedule, calendar, and other records from her four years as secretary of state. One of those requests was over four years old. The state department also rejected the AP’s request for expedited processing—a fast-track for FOIA requests afforded to journalists working on newsworthy stories in the public interest.
Regarding both Leopold and AP’s requests, the State Department determined that records on a former secretary of state who is almost surely running for president in 2016 were not in the public interest.
Citizens United, a conservative political advocacy group, also sued the State Department in December for failing to turn over flight records showing who accompanied Clinton on overseas flights.
The State Department is one of the slowest, least productive agencies in the federal government when it comes to fulfilling FOIA requests.
Bloomberg reported in July 2014 that the State Department had failed respond to requests on travel costs for senior officials. According to Bloomberg, one of its reporters filed a FOIA request in 2012 for information on gifts to and from foreign dignitaries. After the deadline for responding to the request passed, a State Department FOIA officer told the reporter over the phone to 'Go ahead and sue" before hanging up.
'It's likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president and I want to provide the public, through my reporting, with a look at how she governed as Secretary of State and how she would govern as president," Leopold said in a statement to the Free Beacon. 'In order to provide such insight, however, I need to take a look at what went on behind the scenes at State and how she handled a wide-range of issues and crises. State has been resistant to my efforts to obtain records about her tenure and that's not a surprise considering this administration'