State Dept Withholding Feingold Documents Until After Election

Records will be released one month after November election

Russ Feingold / AP
September 9, 2016

The State Department will not release documents pertaining to Democratic Senate candidate Russ Feingold’s time at the agency until after the November election, according to a report from Politico.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act request nearly 20 months ago seeking correspondence between Feingold, the former senator from Wisconsin who later served as the U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from 2013 until 2015, and DSCC chairman Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sen. Harry Reid (D.,Nev.), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).

The group alleges that Feingold potentially violated the Hatch Act by discussing his challenge against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson with the sitting senators during his time at the department.

Politico reported:

In late August, the State Department’s Freedom of Information office emailed the NRSC to say the estimated delivery date for their request for Feingold’s correspondence was December 2016. Back in February 2015, the NRSC had requested any correspondence between Feingold and three Democratic senators: DSCC chairman Jon Tester, outgoing Minority Leader Harry Reid, and incoming Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. At the same time, the GOP committee also asked for details on Feingold’s salary, expenditures, office budgets, hotel and travel costs, and schedules. Later FOIAs requested emails between Feingold and staffers at Progressives United, the PAC he ran before heading to the State Department that served as a campaign-in-waiting, and emails from Feingold’s longtime chief of staff.

Republicans believe emails between Feingold and Democratic leaders (the NRSC also requested his correspondence with top White House officials) could prove Feingold was planning his rematch against Johnson, who defeated him in 2010, while working at the State Department. Tester told reporters last year he spoke with Feingold about a bid in early January, while other reports indicated Feingold also talked to Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the same time frame.

In response to the State Department’s announcement, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has called on Feingold to ask the agency to release the documents.

"Senator Feingold should not only release his records, but call on the State Department to release the documents and correspondence relating to his tenure. This should be done in a timely and expedient manner," said Mike Duffey, executive director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. "They owe this level of transparency to the voters and if Senator Feingold has nothing to hide, then it should not be an issue."