Letter from William Thomas 12/5/93

William Thomas
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
(202) 462-0757

December 5, 1993

Ellen Hornstein
Office of the General Counsel, Natural Resources Division
14th & Independence Avenue NW
Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090

Dear Ms. Hornstein,

We've never met, but your name pops up every time any employee of the administrative branch cancels a meeting to discuss proposed amendments 36 CFR 251 & 261. As you know, these sections govern special uses of the National Forest System. I am very curious to know the specific legal authority which allows you to interfere with meetings between the public and administrative officials.

You and I had a telephone conversation on or about July 26th of this year, after you had been instrumental in deep sixing a meeting between Kathy Way, of the White House Domestic Policy Office, and members of the public to discuss this regulation. At that time your explanation was that the public comment period was still in effect and that it was improper for a White House official to conduct "ex parte" communications regarding the rulemaking proposal. The public comment period ended on August 4, 1993. A final rule is reportedly being written.

Now, I understand, you recently short-circuited another tentative meeting, this time between interested members of the public and Assistant Secretary Lyons. Again you reportedly claimed " ex parte communications."

My personal intent has been to initiate dialogue between all interested parties. If you know of any private groups or individuals who are in favor of implementing these regulations, by all means I agree they too should be party to any meeting between members of the public with interest in the proposed regulations and members of the administrative branch.

Even if ex parte communications were a legitimate concern, I would suggest that due process msut be considered as a mitigating factor regarding ex parte communications.

In short, I would like to know chapter and verse of the legal authority on which you rely for short-circuiting public meetings with administrative officials to discuss this issue.

If you cannot consider this as a Freedom of Information Act request, please inform me as to your authority.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


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