Rep. John E. Moss

Friday, January 27, 2006

John E. Moss, a Democratic congressman from California, is known as the
legislative father of FOIA.

As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Information, Congressman
Moss was the chief catalytic agent in Congress over the 11-year period of the
bill’s development and eventual passage. Moss arrived in Congress in 1953 as no
particular advocate of the news media’s right to know. Early on, though, he
became a staunch convert when civil-service representatives testified that the
Eisenhower administration had fired disloyal government employees and then
refused to give out their names.

Irate at what seemed to him a blatant flaunting of executive privilege, Moss
set up a new special subcommittee, installed himself as chairman and launched
exploratory hearings into the issue of the availability of information from
federal departments and agencies. The bill, when finally complete, went through
the Senate first, then the House.

John Moss died in 1997.

Charter member of the Hall of Fame.