Americans for Limited Government prepares for potential FOIA lawsuit against Department of Education

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department on Education on September 2 for the release of internal e-mails in which Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his senior staff purportedly either encouraged or required non-partisan career-employees of the Education Department to attend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network rally on August 28, a rally touted by Sharpton as an anti-Glenn Beck event.

Bill Wilson, the president of the ALG, said that, though he hopes the Department of Education will comply with the FOIA request, he’s not sure if it will. He said the department replied to ALG on September 7 that it had received the FOIA request and, according to FOIA law, has until September 22 to provide the documents, e-mails and other communications between Sharpton, Duncan, Duncan’s senior staff and the Department of Education’s lower-level career staffers. If the department deems the request as difficult to complete, which Wilson said isn’t likely because this one only involves rounding up e-mails and voicemails, it can extend the deadline an extra 10 days.

“If they refuse, then we are totally prepared to sue,” Wilson told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. “The law is clear. They can’t withhold this information. The attorneys know the process well. We will file [a lawsuit] and we will win.”

It’s unclear, at this point, whether the e-mails required or just encouraged Department of Education staffers to attend the event, but Wilson doesn’t see a difference.

“If an employer does something like that and says ‘I strongly suggest you go to this anti-union event,’ the union would be all over the employer for something like that for unfair labor practice,” Wilson told TheDC. “The employer, in this case, Arne Duncan, has power over these people. He has their job, he has their career, their advancement. The mere act of suggesting it [going to the Sharpton rally] puts an inordinate and unfair pressure on the worker.”

Wilson also said he envisions a congressional investigation into this matter as well, and that, though he doubts the current Congress would question a member of the president’s cabinet, he thinks the new Congress coming in after the midterm elections in January will.

Matthew Boyle