Appeal Filed after NY AG Rejects FOIL to ID Investigated ‘Ghost Gun’ Companies

Agenda much? Letitia James’ refusal appears less in the interest of securing compliance than it is in playing “Gotcha!” with gun owners she despises. (New York State Attorney General/Facebook)

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- An appeal was filed Friday by this correspondent to the New York Office of Attorney General after its office rejected a Freedom of Information Law request to identify 16 companies Attorney General Letitia James is investigating for allegedly violating the state’s “ghost gun” law.

Since the companies affected could be “subject … to disgorgement, restitution, and penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation,” and since New York citizens who dealt with these companies are also at legal risk, AG James’ reported contention that she would not make them known “for fear of directing them business” should not override the public’s right to know. That the rejection was then “justified” under the excuse that it is for law enforcement investigations and judicial proceedings only makes the rejection all the more unsupportable, especially since the companies know who they are and disclosure of their identities, with no other information, can in no way jeopardize state actions.

The refusal instead indicates not only a lack of transparency on the part of Attorney General James and suggests arrogance and a legal vendetta by someone with the power to prosecute based on a political agenda. If allowed to stand, forget guns. What other issues involving citizen rights will the State be able to pursue while confidently hiding behind a cloak of in-your-face nondisclosure?

Here’s my appeal:

November 29, 2019

Kathryn Sheingold
Records Appeals Officer
State of New York
Office of the Attorney General
Division of Appeals and Opinions
The Capitol
Albany, New York 12224

Re: Freedom of Information Law Appeal, Reference # G000679-092619

Dear Ms. Sheingold:

I hereby appeal the November 1, 2019 denial of access regarding my request, which was made on 09/26/2019 and sent to NYS OAG FOIL Request Center via the NYAG website's online request form. This appeal is being filed today to meet the State’s Nov. 30 deadline.

The records that were denied include the names of the 16 online “ghost gun” companies ordered by Attorney General Letitia James to cease and desist New York sales, and if applicable, the person the order was directed to the attention of. (See Sept. 23 press release.)

The Attorney General was cited in the press saying “James did not identify [the companies] for fear of directing them business.”

I maintain as I said in my FOIL request:

I am a journalist covering firearms-related issues whose work has appeared for decades in national magazines and internet sites. My readership and I have a legitimate interest in knowing which companies have received orders that include the potential for criminal prosecutions.

In rejecting my request, Assistant Attorney General Abisola Fatade asserted:

Please be advised that the records that respond to your request are exempt from disclosure and have been withheld pursuant to:

• New York Public Officers Law § 87(2)(e), because the documents requested were compiled for law-enforcement purposes and would, if disclosed, interfere with law-enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings.

I don’t believe a blanket law enforcement exemption would apply to this. As the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit held in Crooker v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, 789 F.2d 64, 66–67 (D.C. Cir. 1986):

[T]he Supreme Court underscored: ” [T]he amendment of Exemption 7 was designed to eliminate ‘blanket exemptions' for Government records simply because they were found in investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes.”

And

In Campbell v. Department of Health and Human Services, 682 F.2d 256 (D.C. Cir. 1982), this circuit reiterated that the 1974 Congress did not authorize “blanket exemption” for “all records relating to an ongoing investigation.” Id. at 259. We referred to the “congressional intent to heighten or refine agency attention to FOIA requests,” and we stressed: “If an agency may withhold any document merely because it relates to a pending investigation, the 1974 version of Exemption 7(A) would apply to everything properly placed in investigatory files, yet Congress plainly mandated a focus upon records, not files.”

Furthermore, by withholding the names of the companies, important information is being withheld from citizens who it appears are at legal risk. I hope your office can see that if the intent is to establish compliance with the law, decisions made by those citizens should be informed. I maintain that it is in the public interest to make that information known, and that should take precedence over the reportedly stated intent of AG James not to “direct business” to companies engaging in business that is lawful in other jurisdictions.

As required by the Freedom of Information Law, the head or governing body of an agency, or whoever is designated to determine appeals, is required to respond within 10 business days of the receipt of an appeal. If the records are denied on appeal, please explain the reasons for the denial fully in writing as required by law.

In addition, please be advised that the Freedom of Information Law directs that all appeals and the determinations that follow be sent to the Committee on Open Government, Department of State, 41 State Street, Albany, New York 12231.

Sincerely,

David Codrea
[Address redacted]

I will, of course, follow up on this when I receive a response and will determine then if further action is necessary.


About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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RocktetejaunUSAOldJarhead03StWayne Recent comment authors
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tetejaun
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tetejaun

“Ghost Gun” is another lie and fraud. Prior to 1968, many guns did not have serial numbers. I have a Remington and a Winchester, both .22s, that have no serial numbers and they were manufactured before October 1968. The serial number lie also assumes the government is the master and its totalitarian edicts are just and must be obeyed, even though they fly in the face of the Second Amendment as free men to not wear government collars. NO WHERE in the Constitution does it say guns must have serial numbers. Only in unconstitutional regulations designed to ensnare and entrap… Read more »

USA
Member
USA

Tete, You attacked their Kool-Aid and got rewarded by a down strike. Good job.
Funny thing is most believe they freed the slaves long ago to only become them.

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

I find it funny that the cowardly liberals will down-vote you yet, refuse to comment.
They must just run away crying.

OldJarhead03
Member
OldJarhead03

If you receive a response.
I was once told in a custody case (in WA) to “do what you will, our pockets are deeper and we’ll bankrupt you”.

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

Second Amendment Foundation petitioned the Bush Administration for redress of grievance.
The Bush Administration stated that they refused to acknowledge their petition for redress. So much for the First Amendment. THAT should have started the bullets flying. But, the American people once again sat quietly and accepted the unconstitutional action, even though they had a Constitutional Right & Duty to correct that unconstitutional action. The tyrant’s power was, again, set in stone as the unchallenged master over all. Cowardice and inaction have their consequences.
Talk and legal parlance is clever and good men allow it. But, anti-American one-worlders do not.

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

I see, yet again, a cowardly liberal down-voted but ran away crying rather than rebut.
It is to laugh.

StWayne
Member
StWayne

David, you have this “bitch hiding behind a political badge” by her proverbial balls. She has shown herself for what she is, a political creature with an agenda, and now that she has been identified as such, needs to be drummed out of office and held accountable by the very laws that she would so eagerly weaponize against those she is supposed to represent for the betterment of the whole, and piecemeal justice under the guise of a “law” doesn’t qualify. Stay on her ass, and make sure she’s not only brought to justice for her crimes, but identified for… Read more »

AnotherLEO
Member
AnotherLEO

Given the fact that NY blatantly and knowing violated the 2nd Amendment for how many years and only acquiesced in the face of a Supreme Court ruling, this seems predictable. NY and California are breeding grounds for the rhetoric and resultant policies that are plunging this country into what will be perhaps the bloodiest Civil War in history. Every day the socialist factions grow in size and audacity. They truly believe that the pursuit of their twisted ideologies justify their widespread constitutional infringements and overtly criminal actions.

Vern
Member
Vern

Freedom is a term the democrats are trying to do away with, unless it concerns themselves. Even that will be restricted by the upper, upper echelon.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@DC, Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) … is that the New York State version of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

PAF145
Member
PAF145

New York’s AG is a traitor to America

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@PAF, betrayer, not traitor. You still get an up click.

Bowserb46
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Bowserb46

Get used to “law enforcement” becoming all powerful as our rights get explained away. Red Flag laws, violating at least three of the Bill of Rights will have the police–or maybe SWAT–at your door, demanding all your guns and ammo, because a person whose name you’re not allowed to know, says you might be a danger to yourself and others. And once again, a Russian immigrant warned us. Ayn Rand from “The Nature of Government” 1964: “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the… Read more »

Mike Crognale
Member
Mike Crognale

Good luck with that. It’s New York and she’s a democrat traitor. They don’t ever have to obey the laws. It’s all about power, control and tyranny.

USA
Member
USA

Mike, And by looking at the picture it is also about weight qualification.

Rock
Member
Rock

They be eat’n good in da hood… You KNOW that these heffers hit-n-run “baby daddy” gang members are DEEP into the “ghost gun” or ANY form of untraceable firearm… No one wants to eliminate or talk about the gangs.
Makes their Bitchin a bit IRONIC doesn’t it ?

Vince
Member
Vince

Great work and I hope they squirm every day!

The other Jim
Member
The other Jim

Excellent. Keep us posted on this David. Thanks.

Jonesy
Member
Jonesy

Mr. Codrea, Please keep us posted. I read in another news article that 125,000 non-violent inmates are to be released from New York Prisons in this coming year.

Laddyboy
Member
Laddyboy

How dare the State to allow these Convicts still dressed in ORANGE to walk the streets alone??? I remember the DemoNAZIS kept saying: “ORANGE MAN BAD”. Does this not apply to these individuals?????????

Ansel Hazen
Member
Ansel Hazen

Nice work David.