Rav rave: Get copies of company complaints to FTC

I rave about Michael Ravnitzky (mikerav@verizon.net). He’s gathered thousands of federal records and knows his way around FOIA probably more than anyone else. He recently posted tips on the FOI Listserv on how to get copies of complaints against companies that have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission. This is how, in his words:

“Just send a letter, fax or email to:

Freedom of Information Act Request
Office of General Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
Fax number for the FOIA branch is (202) 326-2477
The e-mail address is FOIA@FTC.GOV

In the letter indicate that you would like copies of complaints mentioning a
particular company or companies, or any organization.

Or else, in your letter, indicate you would like a copy of complaints
mentioning a particular product or keyword.

If you are a news media requester, you should identify that fact and that
the request is being submitted for news reporting purposes.”

Bailout records public – go get ’em!

A federal appeals court ruled today that the Federal Reserve Board must release records relating to the bank buyout to Bloomberg News, saying the public interest outweighs fears of alleged harm to banks (see story). Good for them!

The court provided a three-part test for when the government can keep such records secret: When the information is a trade secret, when it must be obtained from a person (rather than the agency), and when it is privileged or confidential.

This is great news, and sends a signal that when the government spends money to help businesses, taxpayers deserve to know where their bucks are going. Based on this thinking, the public should have access to records documenting subsidies to businesses, bailouts, and any other situation where we are footing the bill.