About Eric Bolinder

Eric Bolinder is Counsel at Cause of Action Institute

CoA Institute Presses CFPB on Agency Records Kept on Personal Mobile Device

No matter what messaging medium agencies use to conduct business, federal records must be preserved.  If government employees are allowed to evade the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) through use of messaging on their private mobile devices, it threatens government transparency and encumbers efforts to hold agencies accountable.

Just last week, CoA Institute received documents from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) indicating that, in response to our FOIA request, it conducted a search of Director Richard Cordray’s personal mobile device for any text messages that may be agency records.  That action represents the minimum required of CFPB under the law, but the agency has not yet clarified whether it has adequate recordkeeping procedures in place to preserve all agency records created on such personal devices.  It also is unclear whether Director Cordray’s text messages represent the whole body of agency business done on the Director’s phone and if any records may have been destroyed before responding to our request.

In addition, CoA Institute discovered that the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) sent a February 1, 2017 letter to CFPB, requesting information and reports regarding potential destruction of the above-mentioned records.  NARA demanded a reply from CFPB by March 1, 2017.  Today, we filed FOIA requests with both CFPB and NARA in an effort to uncover CFPB’s response and clarify what actions, if any, the agency has taken to fortify its recordkeeping practices.

DOJ IG Agrees to Review Conflict of Interest in FBI Hillary Clinton Investigation

Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any investigation into President Donald Trump’s election campaign.  That was the right decision to make.  The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) must remain clear of all appearances of impropriety.  All DOJ investigations should be, and be seen to be, fair and impartial.

Unfortunately, in the waning days of the Obama Administration, certain Justice officials refused to recuse themselves when facing circumstances similar to Mr. Sessions.  On October 25, 2016, we wrote to the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) requesting an investigation into the failure of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to recuse himself from investigations of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, even though Mr. McCabe’s wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, received over $675,000 in money and in-kind contributions from Governor McAuliffe’s political action committee and the Democratic Party of Virginia.  Equally noteworthy, Governor McAuliffe met with Dr. McCabe to urge her to run for office as a Democrat on March 7, 2015, just five days after The New York Times broke the story on former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email system.

Just this week, on February 23, the DOJ OIG wrote back, informing us that it has opened an investigation into Mr. McCabe’s failure to recuse himself.  This letter came on the heels of a public notice in late January announcing a broader investigation in response to inquiries from Congress and other outside groups.  We are pleased to hear that the DOJ OIG took our allegations seriously and look forward to the result of the investigation.