MFIA Clinic Files FOIA Case on Behalf of Insider Inc.

The Media Freedom and Information Access (MFIA) Clinic at Yale Law School filed a lawsuit on September 25, 2020 on behalf of Insider Inc. (operator of the news site, Business Insider) and reporter Angela Wang. The lawsuit seeks records from the U.S. Treasury Department concerning the conduct of a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigator who was central to government investigations of anabolic steroid use in professional athletics.

The suit comes after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) denied Wang’s request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. It seeks to compel TIGTA to release a 150-page report detailing its investigation into the actions of former IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky and three other IRS agents during government probes related to steroid distribution by The Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO).

“The agency responded to the original FOIA request by telling our clients it couldn’t confirm if the report even exists,” said Clinical Lecturer in Law Charles Crain, MFIA’s Abrams Fellow. “But we know it exists and the public’s entitled to see it.”

The report would shed light on one of the most significant investigations ever into misconduct in American sports. Information gathered by the government led to the federal indictment of Major League Baseball’s all-time home-run leader, Barry Bonds, and to an independent investigation that uncovered widespread abuse of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

The complaint was drafted by MFIA Clinic student Katie Ning ’22.

By Leah Ferentinos