by Tom Fitton –
In all the reporting that has been done regarding the Office of the Special Counsel, something notably missing is a full accounting of what the investigation is costing Americans, as well as any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. To try to get more information on Mueller’s basic operational budget, we just filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of costs incurred by and logs maintained by the security detail for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
We filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the agency failed to respond adequately to its March 19, 2018, FOIA request for:
• All records reflecting expenses incurred by, and disbursements of funds for, the security detail for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
• All logs maintained by the security detail assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The Special Counsel’s office reportedly has spent over $25 million so far.
In a related lawsuit filed in October 2017, the Justice Department had refused to release the proposed budget of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Office, but later was forced to release details from the heavily redacted August 2 memorandum in which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted broad authority to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three months after Mueller’s appointment. The initial appointment memo, controversially, was written in May 2017.
The Justice Department, the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller’s continue to operate as if they are above the law. The American people have a right to know how much taxpayer money is being thrown at Mueller’s massive investigation. Judicial Watch has never before seen this level of secrecy surrounding the operation of a special or independent counsel.
Judicial Watch is pursuing numerous additional FOIA lawsuits related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates during the FBI’s investigation of potential Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Judicial Watch Files Supreme Court Brief
in Support of Grassroots Party Activists
In keeping with our nationwide fight for fair and clean elections, we recently joined with Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in filing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn a decision of the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding a Utah law engineered by Republican legislators to compel Republican Party members to change the way they choose their political candidates.
Until 2014, GOP party members, meeting in neighborhood and local caucuses, elected delegates to represent them at the party nominating convention, which then selected candidates to appear on the general election ballot. That changed when the Utah legislature enacted into law SB 54, which effectively compels parties to hold primary elections.
The law was challenged in the courts, was upheld by the Tenth Circuit, and is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (Utah Republican Party v. Spencer J. Cox, et al. (No. 18-450)).
Judicial Watch argues that the Republican Party rammed through the legislature provisions they could not get voluntarily from their fellow party members:
If allowed to stand, the Tenth Circuit’s decision will significantly degrade the associational rights of political parties. This result is contrary to Supreme Court precedent….
As the Tenth Circuit majority acknowledged, the Utah Legislature that adopted SB 54 is “comprised of overwhelming Republican majorities in both the State House and State Senate.” In other words, members of the Utah Republican Party who could not convince fellow members to adopt the changes incorporated in SB 54 reconvened as legislators, voted their preferences into law, and in this way compelled their fellow members to accept these changes.
The rationale offered for this party coup was remarkably thin.
Judicial Watch also points to the importance of upholding the constitutional rights of free political associations:
[T]he Tenth Circuit’s facile approach fails to do justice to a fundamental First Amendment right. As Alexis de Tocqueville discerned almost 180 years ago, free political associations are particularly important in a democratic system like ours, where the tendency is for individuals to go their own separate ways. As he also foresaw, governments will tend to view private political associations as enemies and will try to restrict their freedom. Amici respectfully submit that the Court plays a vital role in defending these institutions from needless government encroachments and intrusions – like those SB 54 imposes on the Utah Republican Party.
Republican power-brokers in Utah hate party conventions which they can’t control so they passed an unconstitutional law to control the party at the expense of grassroots activists. The Supreme Court should not allow this to stand.
Happy New Year!
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton