For Immediate Release
CREW Sues Dept. of Education for Stonewalling FOIA Process
WASHINGTON - Today CREW sued the Department of Education (DOE) for the third time after the agency refused to comply with yet another of CREW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In CREW v. Dep’t of Education (D.D.C.), CREW is seeking copies of calendars and other meeting and appointment records for former Education Deputy Undersecretary Robert Shireman and current Deputy Undersecretary James Kvaal. Both men have played major roles in the development of regulations governing the for-profit education industry.
“Education’s refusal to process this straight-forward request suggests DOE has something to hide,” said CREW Chief Counsel Anne Weismann. “If DOE officials’ contacts with Wall Street investors were totally above-board, there would be no reason to withhold the calendars and appointment records. The department’s continuing refusal to comply with CREW’s requests, however, suggests there may have been improper conduct.”
CREW filed its FOIA request with DOE on March 31, 2011, but the agency failed to produce anything. The requested appointment records would shed light on meetings Mr. Shireman and Mr. Kvaal had with outside interest groups and Wall Street investors. Documents previously obtained by CREW show Mr. Shireman maintained close contact with his former colleagues at a non-profit education association after coming to DOE.
Earlier this year, in response to another CREW FIOA request and subsequent lawsuit, DOE officials claimed to have uncovered an additional 10,000 apparently overlooked documents, but then produced only about 300 of them. DOE has offered no explanation for the discrepancy.
“At the request of Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC), DOE’s inspector general has launched an investigation into the contacts between the Education officials who were crafting the gainful employment regulation and Wall Street investors with a financial interest in that regulation,” said Ms. Weismann. “Given the IG investigation, CREW’s lawsuits and congressional inquiries, the facts will eventually come out.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.