POGO Supports Senate Bill to Repeal SEC's Blanket FOIA Exemptions

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Keith Rutter
Phone: 202-347-1122
Email: pogo@pogo.org

POGO Supports Senate Bill to Repeal SEC's Blanket FOIA Exemptions

WASHINGTON - Today, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ted Kaufman (D-DE) introduced a bipartisan bill
to strike a troubling provision in the newly enacted financial reform
legislation that would allow the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) to unnecessarily withhold records from the public. The Project On
Government Oversight (POGO) strongly supports this bill, which will
eliminate the exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
created in Section 929I of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

"As the SEC gains new powers to regulate Wall Street, the public has a
right to know whether the agency is taking the necessary steps to avoid
another financial crisis," said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian.
"This bill will ensure that the public can access the records it needs
to hold the agency accountable."

The bill introduced today
strikes exemptions that give the SEC a blanket authority to withhold
records on the companies it regulates, and could severely limit the
public's ability to obtain information on the SEC's oversight
activities. The exemptions are also unnecessary, since FOIA already
protects against the release of sensitive financial information. The
bill clarifies that an existing FOIA exemption will protect against the
release of confidential information contained in the records of hedge
funds and other firms that will now be regulated by the SEC under the
Dodd-Frank Act, eliminating the need for any new blanket exemptions.

Earlier this week, a broad coalition of groups including POGO wrote
to Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Barney Frank
(D-MA) calling on them to repeal the unnecessary FOIA exemptions, and to
examine the SEC's overall record on withholding information from the
public.

Senator Leahy has fought for greater transparency throughout the Dodd-Frank bill, including his efforts to remove a poison pill secrecy measure on information provided to the SEC by whistleblowers. Senators Leahy, Cornyn, and Grassley have each received awards from POGO for their long-standing commitment to good government reforms.

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The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.

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