While the federal government has extensive rules about how its regulatory agencies makes rules--with notices, publication schedules and comment periods--there is no government-wide policy for providing information to the public about meetings between executive branch officials and private interests. These contacts between regulators those seeking to influence them--refered to as ex parte meetings--can have a profound effect on the final shape of the rules that govern everything from disposing of trash to disclosing positions in complex derivatives. Yet there is no uniform requirement to make information about these meetings available to the public, let alone whether or not agencies must ...Continue reading
While journalistic skill and technique are essential for writing a good investigative article, we often take it for granted that... View ArticleContinue reading
[(Photo from the Kansas City Star website.)
[Note: this post has been corrected. Please read the note at the bottom, and comments, for further clarification.]
Reporters' and consumers' groups are protesting the Obama administration's decision to remove from the web a database of disciplinary actions and malpractice suits against physicians. The file, which has been online and publicly available since 2001, hides the names of individual doctors.
But that hasn't stopped reporters over the past decade from doing just that, using ...
Throughout his career as a broker-dealer, Anthony Gerard Manaia has been fired twice. He’s been the subject of 18 complaints by disgruntled investors, most of whom accused him of putting their money in risky investments without their knowledge. He’s currently under investigation for his role in a scandal around offerings by a medical financing company that a federal agency has accused of misappropriating investor funds.
In July 2010 Manaia gave up his broker-dealer registration. Five months later, in January 2011, he hung out his shingle as an investment adviser. His website targets “high net worth individuals” and says ...
In a recent report to Congress, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, the SEC maintained that "because selecting a broker-dealer or investment adviser is one of the most important decisions that investors face, information to help them make this choice should be easy to find, easy to use, and easy to understand."
But if you do a simple google search for the name of your broker or investment adviser and “disciplinary action” or “fine” you are unlikely to come up with much. While the information on broker-dealers and investment advisers is all a matter of public record, you need ...Continue reading
Starting in March 2011, investment advisers who have government clients must keep records of campaign contributions made to elected officials or candidates. But these records are kept secret--buried in internal files, out of the public eye, and available for perusal only by certain government officials.
The new rules were established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after years of "pay to play" scandals rocked multiple cities and states, in which investment advisers representing large public pension programs used various schemes to funnel campaign contributions to elected officials or candidates. In addition to requiring investment advisers to keep ...Continue reading
Buried in the massive Dodd-Frank financial law is a section that could prevent the public from obtaining records the government collects as part of its new oversight of hedge funds and other private funds managed by investment advisers.
Section 404 remained unchanged when Congress last fall repealed another part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act--section 929I--that had provided a massive exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Congress approved that repeal under tremendous pressure after Fox Business News reported that the SEC had cited the new ...Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal announced today that it's suing for access to data on payments that doctors receive from Medicare, which has been exempt from public disclosure thanks to a 1979 court case won by the American Medical Association. The Journal argues that absent data on the payments, it's impossible for journalists or members of the public to tell which doctors are billing the system improperly. "It's time to overturn an injunction that, for decades, has allowed some doctors to defraud Medicare free from public scrutiny," Mark Jackson, the counsel for Dow Jones, the Journal's immediate ...Continue reading
Inspectors general at the Energy Department and Social Security Administration say their review of FOIA procedures at the request of senior Republican lawmakers showed no signs of meddling by political appointees.
Two dozen other agency and department watchdogs have yet to respond to a letter from Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. Grassley of Iowa asking for a quick check of FOIA procedures. The two Republicans sent the letters about a month ago after media reports that the Homeland Security Department subjected FOIA requests from lawmakers, journalists and activist groups to a new “political review” process. Such requests were ...
The scandal-wrecked Minerals Management Services changed its name to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) as part of a promised wave of reforms, but consumer advocacy groups say more transparency is what is really needed at the offshore energy agency.
The agency should provide online access to more data about crude oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and other offshore areas, as well as energy companies’ royalty payments to the U.S. government.
“The kind of data we want to see is on production numbers, so we can have better calculations to ensure ...