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AFP Foundation Sues NTIA: What is Acting Administrator Candeub Hiding?

Dec 15, 2020 by AFP

Arlington, Va. – Today, Americans for Prosperity’s sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Commerce to compel the agency to comply with a months-old FOIA request with its sub-agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The lawsuit is being filed over emails, text messages, and other communications from NTIA Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Adam Candeub, who was recently named to a senior position at the Department of Justice, and others. From the limited information the agency has provided, it is already clear that Mr. Candeub has been using his personal email to conduct government business.

AFPF’s FOIA request sought records relevant to NTIA’s petition for rulemaking on Section 230 that it filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This is not the first time Mr. Candeub’s communications and professional conduct have raised questions. A 2007 FCC Inspector General report detailed how he sparked an investigation by making serious allegations of criminal misconduct by senior managers, then declined to participate in the investigation or back up his claims. In the end, the OIG found a “complete lack of any hint that corroborating evidence [for Candeub’s claims] exists.”

Read AFPF’s lawsuit here.

AFPF Policy Counsel Eric Bolinder issued the following statement:  

“The limited documents NTIA has disclosed from our FOIA contain numerous redactions, raising serious concerns about what NTIA is withholding. Mr. Candeub’s decision to forward government emails to his private mail account only heightens this concern – and the need for full transparency. NTIA has also refused to release all the communications we requested, blocking our access to agency text messages. As Mr. Candeub and his colleagues pressure the FCC and others to restrict our nation’s speech laws, the public has a right to know who is lobbying him. FOIA requests are intended to provide the American public with transparency from their officials and this level of evasion is alarming.”

Earlier this year, AFPF submitted a regulatory comment opposing the NTIA petition and countering the FCC’s claims to Section 230 rulemaking authority. Read AFPF’s FOIA request letter here. In response to that request NTIA has released two limited and highly redacted batches of communications. View the first here and the second here.