Matt Lee Asks State Spox Why He Thinks FOIA Requests Have Skyrocketed Since Obama Took Office

'You had 20,000 FOIA requests in 2014. What happened between 2008 and 2014, do you think, that caused this increase?'

June 11, 2015

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked the State Department Thursday why Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have skyrocketed since 2008, making a clear reference to the Obama administration taking the White House.

State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke said there has been a three hundred percent increase in FOIA requests since 2008.

"Just to compare, in 2008 we had fewer than 6,000 new FOIA requests. Last year we had nearly 20,000," Rathke said. "That’s a number that continues to rise."

Lee asked Rathke whether or not the State Department’s commitment to transparency is something new.

"Don’t you find it interesting that there’s been a 300-percent increase in the number of FOIA requests you’ve gotten?" Lee asked. "Does that not suggest that regardless of your commitment to be open and transparent that people are not convinced this building has been open and transparent?"

Rathke declined to offer an analysis.

"Well, look Matt, I'm not going to draw a conclusion what the reason is behind the numbers," Rathke said. "You can also ask other federal agencies whether they've experienced similar increases. I don't know if they've had the same increases, but I think across the government there have been increases in numbers of FOIA requests. It may be that people know more about FOIA than they did in 2008 and people make use of it."

Lee asked why the increased number of FOIA requests started in 2008.

"It suggests that for some reason, since 2008, people haven't been too confident in the State Department's commitment to openness and transparency, at least as it refers to being open and transparent without a FOIA," Lee said.

Rathke said he wasn’t going to draw those conclusions.

A Free Beacon analysis shows that the most transparent administration was elected to office in 2008.