For Immediate Release
Rootstrikers Submits FOIA Request for Emails Between Top Trade Negotiator and Wall Street
Request comes on the heels of USTR's unwillingness to voluntarily disclose correspondence
WASHINGTON - Today, Rootstrikers submitted a request to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for all correspondence between USTR Michael Froman and the 10 largest U.S. financial institutions.
On May 28, Rootstrikers and nine other organizations called on Ambassador Froman to voluntarily disclose this correspondence. The FOIA request comes on the heels of his refusal to do so and increased scrutiny of trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership following the passage of Trade Promotion Authority by the U.S. Congress.
"Publicly, the Administration has denied that upcoming trade agreements like TTIP pose a potential threat to strong financial regulation, but when they were asked for documents showing what Ambassador Froman has been saying privately to the big banks, the Administration has stonewalled," said Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers. "It’s concerning that Ambassador Froman chose not to build credibility and trust by voluntarily disclosing these communications, but he now has an obligation to do so under FOIA."
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Froman, himself a former executive of Citigroup, received a golden parachute worth more than $4 million upon leaving the large financial institution to go into government. In 2008, he served as a senior official on President Obama's transition team while still on the Citigroup payroll. In that position, he successfully pushed to install Tim Geithner – the Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve and architect of the bailout – as Treasury Secretary at the same time that Citigroup received record-shattering cash infusions as part of the bailout to prevent it from collapsing.
"Under the FOIA statute, USTR has 20 business days to comply with this request,” said Walters. “If it turns out that Ambassador Froman's correspondence with the big banks is too voluminous for USTR to comply promptly – a fact that would confirm our concerns about Wall Street's influence on the trade negotiation process – we will be willing to narrow our request. Otherwise, we expect prompt compliance as the statute requires."
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