Why Require Use Of The FOIA, FOIL, And VFOIA Process?
The Obama Administration has required that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) be used to request a) the names and titles of all employees of the United States government who have visited the Republic of Cuba and b) the names and titles of all representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba who have visited the United States for the purpose of official discussions with representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba. Yet, the United States Department of State confirms that such information is not considered to be classified, secret or top secret; just generally not provided.
With more than one hundred forty (140) employees of the United States government having visited in 2015 and thus far in 2016, and approximately seventy (70) representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba having visited the United States during the same period, there would seem to be a disconnect…. The Obama Administration actively markets the process of the revisions in the relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cuba, yet does not want everyone to know who is participating in the process.
Why have The Honorable Andrew Cuomo (D), Governor of the State of New York, and The Honorable Terence McAuliffe (D), Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, used the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), respectively, to shield, delay and prevent the disclosure of all financial and operational information relating to their visits to the Republic of Cuba?
Governor Cuomo visited the Republic of Cuba from 20 April to 21 April 2015. Governor McAuliffe visited the Republic of Cuba from 3 January 2016 to 6 January 2016.
Both governors have released limited information without use of the FOIL/VFOIA process; Governor McAuliffe’s staff provided meaningful information, although the staff knew that a VFOIA request would be used if the information was not provided. Governor Cuomo’s visit concluded more than one year ago, yet FOIL requests remain unfulfilled.
Each governor has used their respective laws to shield, delay and prevent the disclosure of amounts, sources, and uses of state/commonwealth taxpayer funds and operational information (contracts, etc.) relating to their visits to the Republic of Cuba.
That the governors (and their staffs) know the information should be disclosed, likely will be obtained and disclosed, creates an unnecessary adversarial relationship between them and their employers, the taxpayers, and media representatives who seek to publish information.
When the governors and their staffs spent considerable time and taxpayer resources marketing their visits to the Republic of Cuba- in advance, during, and upon return, reasonable to expect that all information relating to the visit be disclosed in a timely manner- without requiring the FOIL/VFOIA process.
If the effort is considered easily worthwhile to promote, it should be considered easily worthwhile to defend.