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Dan Epstein, executive director of the civic watchdog group Cause of Action, says Obama has “politicized the bureaucracy” by dictating agency actions. In August 2014, the group sued the Obama administration, alleging that white House attorneys interfere with the release of public documents in violation of the freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The practice is based on an April 15, 2009, white House memo directing general counsels at all executive agencies and departments to consult with white House counsel before complying with FOIA requests.


Epstein says the memo “allowed the white House to assert more control over the ways agencies control docu- ments that let the public know what the government is up to. It has chilled democracy, and done so in ways that have gone unchecked by Congress and the courts.” As a result, he says, agencies “are following laws dictated by the president rather than laws dictated by the people.”