MFIA represents Eric Lipton, an award-winning investigative reporter in The New York Times' D.C. Bureau, and The New York Times Company in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking the regular disclosure of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's detailed daily schedule in the agency's electronic "reading room." Administrator Pruitt's calendar is a critical tool for journalists like Lipton to keep track of who has the ear of the EPA head and to assess potential conflicts of interest.
Under the 2016 revisions to FOIA, which were enacted with bipartisan support, agencies are required to proactively disclose records for which they have received at least three FOIA requests and which they have already disclosed in response to at least one request. In addition, agencies must also proactively release those records which the agency determines are likely to become the subject of a future request for substantially the same records. Administrator Pruitt's detailed schedule falls squarely within these categories of records, since many news organizations and public interest groups have requested it and the EPA has provided the detailed calendar in response to a FOIA request by American Oversight, an ethics watchdog organization. Nevertheless, the EPA has only published a sparse version of the schedule on its website. This public calendar is missing critical details that were present on the calendar disclosed to American Oversight and has several inconsistencies with that record.
MFIA filed its complaint on December 4, 2017, and filed for summary judgment on March 20, 2018.