5 inductees join FOIA Hall of Fame

Friday, March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — Five people whose work has furthered the cause of freedom of information and open government have been added to the ranks of the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame.

The new inductees:

  • Jennifer LaFleur, director, computer-assisted reporting, ProPublica
  • Sean Moulton, director, federal information policy, OMB Watch
  • Tony Mauro, Supreme Court reporter, The National Law Journal
  • David C. Vladeck, director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  • Anne Weismann, chief counsel, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The inductions were announced during the National Freedom of Information Day event March 16.

“The right to know what our government is doing is an important part of America’s democratic and First Amendment heritage,” said Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, which administers the hall of fame. The hall is “a salute to those who have pursued the people’s right to know.”

New members of the FOIA Hall of Fame are selected by a committee of open-government advocates every five years. Committee members are Paul McMasters, former First Amendment Center ombudsman; Gary Bass, OMB Watch; Patrice McDermott, openthegovernment.org; Lucy Dalglish, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and Policinski.

The five 2011 inductees are “honored for their unique roles in helping to establish, defend and utilize the legal basis for the right to know,” said Policinski.

The legal basis of this right was established on July 4, 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act. In 1974, FOIA was strengthened with the passage of key amendments. A new measure, which would apply FOIA principles to electronic records, has been passed by House and Senate committees in the 104th Congress.

Journalists have used the act for more than three decades to generate thousands of news stories, including some of the most important exposés of our time. Using FOIA, journalists have held government accountable, exposed crime, and helped shape American public policy in major ways.

Many people inside the government, legislators as well as enlightened federal administrators, contributed to FOIA’s creation and implementation. Others, including presidents and some in Congress, have unsuccessfully sought to weaken FOIA. In part, it has been the vigilance of news organizations and journalists, supported by certain federal leaders, that has preserved the act.

A coalition of media organizations joined in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of FOIA. One goal is to develop a plan for expanding the rights of Americans to know about their government’s actions. Another is to recognize key individuals who have demonstrated strong leadership in connection with FOIA. These men and women have developed and defended federal legislation, ensuring the right of the American public to know about the actions of its government and helping journalists use the act in their work.

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Contact Gene Policinski, 615/727-1600

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