In a major victory for transparency that could provide "a window into the corporate lobbyists driving Trump administration policy," the White House on Thursday was forced to settle a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen over its refusal to make visitor logs public.
"There was no legal justification for the Secret Service to withhold the visitor logs we requested," Adina Rosenbaum, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case, said in a statement on Thursday. "We are pleased that the public will have access to these valuable records."
The Trump administration aimed to conceal the names of people visiting key White House agencies to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government.— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) February 15, 2018
Now we’ll at least have a window into the corporate lobbyists driving Trump administration policy. pic.twitter.com/FwOF1U2OG1
Public Citizen filed its suit last August after the Trump administration denied the group's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records on those who had visited four major White House agencies—the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
Justifying its denial of Public Citizen's FOIA request, the Secret Service claimed it had transferred the visitor logs to the White House Office of Records Management, which isn't subject to FOIA.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Secret Service will be required to transfer the visitor logs back to the four White House agencies, which will then have to post the logs online within a month of receiving them.
According to Public Citizen, "visitor logs from the past year will be released over the next several months."
Journalists, legal experts, and transparency advocates celebrated the settlement on Thursday, which Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said thwarts an attempt by the Trump administration to "keep secret the names of the people visiting the White House in order to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government."
In a big win for open government, the @SecretService settled a FOIA lawsuit by @Public_Citizen. As a result, visitor logs for @WHOSTP @OMBPress @WhiteHouse CEQ & ONDCP going back to January 20, 2017 will be disclosed online for public review within a year. https://t.co/Mdl8yPZEpc pic.twitter.com/Vz20j6HK75— Sunlight Foundation (@SunFoundation) February 15, 2018