Department of State officials claim they need nearly a year before they can release a two-page list of “Special Government Employees”(SGE) – workers with a rarely granted permission to work simultaneously for the government and outside bosses.
The Daily Caller News Foundation requested the SGE list last July under the Freedom of Information Act. The department now says, “The estimated completion date (ECD) for this case is: December 2016.”
Department officials justified the delay by saying, “given the high volume of FOIA requests, in addition to a backlog which the department is working diligently to reduce, there is presently a delay in the completion of FOIA requests.”
The SGE list gained national prominence in 2015 when it became known that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, held multiple outside jobs while working for the former secretary of state.
One of the outside jobs was with the Clinton Foundation, a second one was for an international consulting firm with strong ties to the foundation, and a third on Clinton’s personal payroll. Abedin’s husband is the disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told TheDCNF, “It’s especially concerning when a major agency has trouble fulfilling what seems to be even the most basic information requests, such as producing a narrow list of government employees, in a timely manner.”
Grassley said the department’s “accountability is undermined when government operates with secrecy as a knee-jerk position,” adding, “FOIA’s purpose is to bring to light about what the government is up to.”
The SGE list typically involves only a small number of employees, including about 60 Department of State employees out of the 69,000 who work there.
The SGE issue has plagued Clinton’s election campaign as it raised a specter of serious conflicts of interest with Abedin and her private sector responsibilities.
The Washington Post reported that the State Department issued a subpoena last fall to the Clinton Foundation for records related to Abedin while she was employed at the agency and at the foundation.
Chris Farrell, director of investigations and research at the non-profit government watchdog Judicial Watch, called the one-year delay “preposterous. It’s another example of the State Department slow-rolling information that the public deserves, but that might be embarrassing or awkward for either Mrs. Clinton or the administration.”
Farrell told TheDCNF that “in this case, what you’re asking for is a very discreet, easily identifiable set of records. It’s hard to imagine a year of staff time to review and release two pages of material. It’s just mind-boggling.”
Judicial Watch successfully sued the Department of State over the release of Clinton’s 55,000 pages of emails that were stored on her private home-brew server she used throughout her tenure as the nation’s chief diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
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