The Difference Between the State Department and Me

You know what happens when the government “requests” information from me as an employer, business or property owner, or taxpayer, and I don’t respond within their deadline?

My bank account is seized, my property is seized, and I am thrown into jail.

You know what happens when the State Department (or any other government employee or agency) fails to respond to a request for information as required by law?

It gets more personnel and a bigger budget.

From this recent, “Inspector General Faults State Department’s Handling of Hillary Clinton’s Records: Department Repeatedly Fell Short of its Obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, Internal Watchdog Finds:”

The State Department’s internal watchdog found that the department gave “inaccurate and incomplete” answers to groups seeking access to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s records.

In a statement, the ​department acknowledged shortcoming in its information-management practices and vowed to accept the inspector general’s recommendations on improving the process. “We know we must continue to improve our FOIA responsiveness and are taking additional steps to do so,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Mr. Kirby also pointed to Secretary of State John Kerry’s appointment of a transparency coordinator last year, as well as additional staff resources that are being added to the department to help manage its load of FOIA requests. [emphasis added]

And just who was requesting this FOIA information?

Evil political enemies out to get Hillary?

Exhibit A: Progressives!

In 2012, CREW—a nonprofit watchdog group that is often associated with progressive causes—requested information about the number of email accounts Mrs. Clinton was using while in office. She was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

The State Department told CREW in 2013 that “no records responsive to your request were located,” despite dozens of senior State Department staff being aware of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a personal email account, the report said.

Exhibit B: The MSM!

The inspector general also faulted the State Department for allowing an Associated Press FOIA request for Mrs. Clinton’s calendars and schedules to lay “dormant” for several years without a response.

In case you were wondering:

The law gives agencies a 20-day deadline to respond to FOIAs, though it is routine* for most agencies to miss that deadline. [Emphasis added]

*Warning: Don’t try this “routine” at home. Results cited are only for those granted immunity by virtue of their position as a “public servant.”

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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