Under the Freedom of Information Act, the agencies have 20 business days legally to respond.
“President Obama’s decision not to release the bin Laden photos is at odds with his promises to make his administration the most transparent in history. Judicial Watch hopes its FOIA requests will provide a mechanism to release these records in an orderly fashion in compliance with the FOIA law. President Obama’s reluctance to ‘spike the football’ is not a lawful reason for withholding these historic public documents from the American people. We are prepared to go to court to obtain this information,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Today, JudicialWatch.org posted a press release with documentation they obtained through a FOIA request related to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s contacts with Barak Hussein Obama and his transition team:
Washington, DC — January 5, 2009
Includes December 3, 2008, Letter to “Rod” Signed by Obama
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich through the Freedom of Information Act related to Blagojevich’s contacts with President-elect Obama and his transition team. The documents include a December 3, 2008, letter from Barack Obama following his December 2, 2008, meeting with Blagojevich as well as a November 17, 2008, letter signed by Presidential Transition Team co-chairs Valerie Jarrett and John Podesta providing Blagojevich with a list of transition team contacts.
The following are excerpts from the letter signed by President-elect Obama on December 3, 2008, less than one week before authorities arrested Blagojevich for attempting to “sell” Obama’s now-vacant Senate seat, among other corruption charges:
“Thank you for meeting with me on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Vice President-elect Joe Biden and I were pleased with the open discussion.”
“As we discussed, I would appreciate any advice you can provide to me and my team on the biggest roadblocks to states in moving forward in ‘getting ready to go’ projects started quickly.”
“In addition, I welcome any advice you can provide me and my team on revitalizing and reinvigorating the state-federal partnership. I want to make it a priority of my Administration to work closely with you.”
“I look forward to working with you and hitting the ground running on January 20th.”
“On behalf of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden we want you to know of our strong interest in working with you in the months to come. As you may know we have formed a Presidential Transition Team so that the new Administration will be prepared to confront the extraordinary challenges facing our country. Your leadership and experience will be invaluable in this effort and we hope you will not hesitate to share your insights during this process.”
“These documents tend to undermine Obama’s claims that he had no contact with Blagojevich and suggest his transition is hiding documents about such contacts,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Why did President-elect Obama not release this letter? What else is he hiding?”
Today, Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee:
Washington, DC — January 29, 2009
Hillary Clinton Constitutionally Ineligible to Serve as Secretary of State
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee David C. Rodearmel, (Rodearmel v. Clinton, et al., (D. District of Columbia)). The lawsuit maintains that Mrs. Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State and that Mr. Rodearmel cannot be forced to serve under the former U.S. Senator, as it would violate the oath he took as a Foreign Service Officer in 1991 to “support and defend” and “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States.
Under the “Emoluments” or “Ineligibility” clause of the U.S. Constitution, no member of Congress can be appointed to a civilian position within the U.S. government if the “emoluments” of the position, such as the salary or benefits paid to whoever occupies the office, increased during the term for which the Senator or Representative was elected.
Specifically, article I, section 6 of the U.S. Constitution provides, “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time.” The text of the provision is an absolute prohibition and does not allow for any exceptions.
According to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the “emoluments” of the office of U.S. Secretary of State increased three times during Mrs. Clinton’s most recent U.S. Senate term. That term, which began on January 4, 2007, does not expire until January 2013, regardless of Mrs. Clinton’s recent resignation. The lawsuit notes that Congress attempted to evade this clear constitutional prohibition with a so-called “Saxbe fix” last month, reducing the Secretary of State’s salary to the level in effect on January 1, 2007. This maneuver, first used in the Taft Administration, has been more frequently used in recent years by both parties, allowing notably Republican Senator William Saxbe to become U.S. Attorney General in 1973 and Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen to become Treasury Secretary in 1993. A similar “fix” has been enacted for Senator Ken Salazar to join the Obama Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, however, points out that the legislation “does not and cannot change the historical fact that the ‘compensation and other emoluments’ of the office of the U.S. Secretary of State increased during Defendant Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate . . . .” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is required to give expedited consideration to the lawsuit.
“This historic legal challenge should remind politicians of both parties that the U.S. Constitution
is not to be trifled with,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Mrs. Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State until at least 2013, when her second term in the U.S. Senate expires. We hope the courts will put a stop to these end runs around the Constitution and affirm the rule of law.”
Judicial Watch is filing the suit on behalf of a concerned citizen, John Vincent, against the US Senate, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Sergeant at Arms of the US Senate:
Washington, DC — January 7, 2009
Senate’s Refusal to Accept Roland Burris Appointment Violates U.S. Constitution
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it is filing a lawsuit on behalf of an Illinois resident against the United States Senate for denying former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris his rightful position as the junior Senator from Illinois. In accordance with the U.S. Constitution and Illinois state law, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris to fill the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. Nonetheless, at the direction of Senate leaders, Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erikson rejected Mr. Burris’ appointment and has denied him entry to the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of John Vincent, a longtime Illinois resident. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and names as defendants the United States Senate, and its Secretary and Sergeant At Arms.
According to the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a state’s governor, with authority from the legislature, may appoint a Senator in the event of a vacancy. Illinois law specifically states: “When a vacancy shall occur in the office of the United States Senator from this state, the Governor shall make temporary appointment to fill such vacancy until the next election of representatives in Congress, at which time such vacancy shall be filled by election, and the senator so elected shall take office as soon thereafter as he shall receive his certificate of election.”
Moreover, according to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit: “The U.S. Constitution guarantees Plaintiff the right to representation by two U.S. Senators in the U.S. Senate… [Therefore, the U.S. Senate's] refusal to allow Mr. Burris to be sworn in as the junior U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois and to otherwise occupy his rightful position as member of the U.S. Senate violates the U.S. Constitution.”
“Blagojevich may be a crook but the Burris appointment is consistent with the law and must be respected. The Senate has no legal authority to deny Mr. Burris his rightful position in the U.S. Senate. The citizens of Illinois are entitled to full representation in the United State Senate,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Few have been more critical of Blagojevich than Judicial Watch, but the law is the law.”
For several years, Judicial Watch has investigated the corrupt activities of Blagojevich, who was arrested on December 9, 2008 for attempting to “sell” the Obama seat, among other corruption charges. On Thursday, December 18, 2008, Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes testified before Illinois House Special Investigative Committee considering impeachment of Governor Blagojevich.