Letter from William Thomas 1/28/94

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

January 28, 1994
Certified Mail No. P 150697796

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

Dear Ms. Hornstein,

Thank you for your letter, postmarked January 14, 1994 (received January 22nd), which you framed as a response both to my FOIA request of December 15, 1993, as well as my earlier letter to you dated December 5, 1993.

My letter of December 5th referenced two specific incidents -- an agree upon July, 1993 meeting with Kathy Way of the White House domestic policy staff, and attempts to arrange a meeting with Assistant Secretary Lyons in December -- and explained:
"I am very curious to know the specific legal authority which allows you to interfere with meetings between the public and administrative officials."

Your letter now cites 1 C.F.R. 305.77-3 as your legal authority for advising those officials to cancel or refuse meetings.

It appears the threshold problem is your idea that requests for "public meetings" are requests for ex parte communications. Consistent with the general provisions of the APA (e.g., 5 USC 609[4]), 1 C.F.R. 305.77-3 recommends, in part:
"Agencies should experiment in appropriate situations with procedures designed to disclose oral communications from outside the agency of significant information or argument respecting the merits of proposed rules...."

Thus, your interference with the aforementioned meetings appears "to be at odds with the widespread demand for open government." 1 C.F.R. 305.77-3.

As Ms. Way explained it, your office became involved with our meeting plans when she called DOA to arrange for a meeting place.

May I suggest you now rectify your error by calling Ms. Way (465- 7777) and advising her as to an appropriate site where a public meeting may be conducted?

In service to peace through understanding,

cc: Catherine Way, White House
Jim Lyons, USDA

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