Blog — Jerry Lewis
CREW is not an organization that generally leaps to the defense of members of Congress, but today we are compelled to note that some conservative websites are inaccurately reporting that “revelations” in a FOIA lawsuit led Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) to announce his retirement last week.
Curious about this announcement, I checked the Western District of Washington’s docket sheet for the case, 3:11-cv-05792-MRH, found here. In fact, since the lawsuit was filed last September it does not appear that so much as a single document has been handed over to the plaintiffs, one of whom, Doug Cloud is counsel on the case and is now running to replace Rep. Dicks. Rather than releasing records, the Department of Justice filed an answer to the complaint, claiming the court had no jurisdiction, that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted and that plaintiffs sought to impose an obligation on the FBI not imposed by the FOIA. Notably, Cloud fails to link to or cite a single document in the release.
Further, Cloud demonstrates his unfamiliarity with the FOIA. The lawyer-cum-candidate claims he “knew that the Department of Justice position, that the files were not a matter of overriding public interest, was indefensible. The only possible way Dicks could keep the files sealed was to return to private life.” In fact, if a court found the public interest in the documents overrode Rep. Dicks’ privacy interests, whether or not the lawmaker remained in Congress or retired would be utterly irrelevant.
We know whereof we speak. CREW has sued DOJ for refusing to respond to our FOIA requests for documents concerning criminal investigations of Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Jerry Lewis (R-CA). In both cases, federal judges have held the public interest in this information may override the congressmen’s privacy interests and have ordered DOJ to provide the documents or explain why any particular document is withheld. Although Rep. Lewis has announced his retirement, it wasn’t even mentioned by the court considering the case.
CREW is concerned about the PMA Group’s influence with members of Congress and has sued DOJ for records concerning the investigation and prosecution of Paul Magliocchetti. We’ve also posted documents related to the late Rep. John Murtha’s ties to the lobbying group. As sympathetic as we are to efforts to uncover information about potential congressional corruption, no such evidence is revealed here. The press release is ridiculous and other sites should have exercised a little due diligence before parroting its inane claims.
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