Last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) responded to the Bush administration’s rumored plan to instruct the Department of Justice to take over functions that had been assigned to the newly-created office of Government Information Services, set forth by the recently passed FOIA reform bill.
Leahy and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) made sure Attorney General Michael Mukasey was aware of the rumor when they spoke with him at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
The two senators, who are the bill’s major proponents in Congress, informed Mukasey of indications that the administration may plan to divert funds from the new FOIA office to the Department of Justice’s current unofficial records request area.
“The Department of Justice shows an inherent conflict of interest mediating disputes,” said Rick Blum, coordinator for the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups dedicated to open government. “The law clearly states the need for an independent public advocate.”