HHS Rejects Planned Parenthood FOIA Request Because It’s ‘Not Newsworthy’

HHS Rejects Planned Parenthood FOIA Request Because It’s ‘Not Newsworthy’

Earlier this week, Mary Hasson broke the news here at the Federalist that federal funds went to Planned Parenthood’s salad-munching, wine-sipping, organ-harvesting Dr. Deborah Nucatola for advice on “healthy baby” births.

Hasson requested all communications and documents relevant to any payments to or compensation of fees, consultant fees, reimbursements, etc. to Deborah Nucatola, MD, a Planned Parenthood employee. And she requested that the documents be sent as soon as possible.

The Freedom of Information Act requires the federal government to be transparent, but successfully receiving information from the Obama Administration has gone so poorly — even more poorly than previous administrations — that many media outlets have resorted to suing the federal government to get them to respond to FOIA requests.

In March it was announced that the Obama administration had set new records for censoring information, outright denying access to information, and length of time to fulfill requests. They also, “refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy,” according to the Associated Press.

Since FOIA requests can routinely take years to fulfill, if they’re ever filled, Hasson requested that the Health and Human Services FOIA office expedite her request. She wrote:

“The public has a right to know of any federal monies going to Dr. Nucatola in light of the video, released by the Center for Medical Progress, that includes remarks by Dr. Nucatola that raise questions about whether federal laws may have been violated regarding patients’ informed consent for fetal tissue, and conflict of interest. Expedited processing required because of planned or pending Congressional hearings and the public’s demand for transparency on this issue.”

You’ll never guess what happened next.

HHS denied her request for expedited information on the compensation and payments given to Nucatola. They claimed it didn’t fit the public’s “urgent” right to know:

“Further, in order to meet second prong of the compelling need standard, the requested information must be the type of information that has a particular value that will be lost if not disseminated quickly, and ordinarily refers to a breaking news story of general public interest.”

HHS is arguing that the Planned Parenthood scandal, the very same one that has Planned Parenthood honcho Cecile Richards panicking and running every public relations response in the book, is not a “breaking news story of general public interest!”

To be sure, while HHS denied Hasson’s expedited FOIA request, they could at some point in the years to come respond to Hasson’s simple information request. Or, then again, maybe not.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway
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