By: Daniel Epstein

Cause of Action led the charge to uncover the information

Yesterday, released documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) showing how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at the direction of FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, lobbied former U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller to hold up FOIA reform legislation late last year.

Sen. Rockefeller is the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee – the committee charged with FTC oversight.

Shawn Musgrave at requested the documents at the suggestion of our organization—Cause of Action, a group that works tirelessly to make the federal government more open and transparent.

While the revelation may come as a shock to some, cronyism and opacity at the FTC is nothing new to us. Prior to yesterday, our organization released documents exposing both the close relationship between the FTC and Sen. Rockefeller, as well as the FTC’s opacity when it comes to FOIA requests.

The documents obtained by show not only how the FTC lobbied aggressively against transparency reform, but also reflect the heights to which FTC’s opacity – and Sen. Rockefeller’s acquiescence – reach. In fact, Jeanne Bumpus, the FTC’s congressional liaison, used a non-government email account to lobby the FTC:

This isn’t the first case of a government official using a non-government email address to conduct official government business. It is, however, yet another example of how this administration’s “commitment…to usher in a new era of open Government” was little more than lip service.

The FTC Used Sen. Rockefeller As Its Personal Hit Man

Last year, Cause of Action alleged that Sen. Rockefeller was a pawn for the FTC. We produced documents showing that Sen. Rockefeller’s own chief of staff negotiated with Chairwoman Ramirez concerning former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s investigation into the FTC, an investigation initiated in response to the FTC’s aggressive and fraudulent battle with the cancer detection company LabMD.

In an effort to silence our organization, the FTC motivated Sen. Rockefeller to publicly attack us in a letter to Congressman Issa.

What the documents uncovered yesterday confirm is that the FTC and Sen. Rockefeller shared an extremely cozy relationship whereby the FTC would use the senator as a proxy to fight its battles to kill FOIA reform and to attack us.