President Barack Obama’s administration spent a record $36 million to battle Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, contradicting his promise to be the most transparent administration in history.
During Obama’s last year in office, the administration spent $36 million to pay legal fees to avoid releasing information sought by FOIA requests, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
More than half the money was spent fighting lawsuits against three agencies. The Department of Justice accounted for $12 million, the Department Homeland Security spent $6.3 million and the Department of Defense spent $4.8 million.
The number of FOIA lawsuits brought against the government increased significantly during Obama’s two terms. Individuals, journalists and advocacy groups filed 300 FOIA lawsuits in 2009. That number increased through almost every year of Obama’s presidency, and a total of 512 lawsuits were filed in 2016, according to the FOIA Project.
A 2016 Government Accountability Office report shows that from 2009 to 2014, the administration spent $144 million for all of the FOIA lawsuits that government agencies and departments defended.
The increase in costs of FOIA lawsuits corresponds to the increase in legal battles brought against the government. For the past several years, the Obama administration set new records for the number of FOIA lawsuits.
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