U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy

Patrick Leahy

A consistent champion of FOI rights throughout his three-plus decades in the Senate, U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., is considered to be FOIA’s best friend in Congress today.

The principal sponsor of the Electronic FOIA, a 1996 amendment to FOIA that reflected the reality of modern electronic recordkeeping, Leahy has stood strong against attempts by colleagues to narrow FOIA’s scope. In 1981, he led the fight against amendments brought by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, which would have restricted citizen access to certain records, as well as a statute to prevent business from delaying release of non-confidential documents.

Over the years, Leahy has become so identified with FOIA that one press-organization representative quipped that proposing to add his name to a list of honorees is akin to proposing Michael Jordan for the Basketball Hall of Fame.