A public records request for emails between a National Park Service official and Lolita Zinke, above, wife of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was originally estimated to potentially yield 96 pages of communication. It ended up being 16 pages long after being put through the awareness review process. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)
The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action.
“If political officials are becoming involved in the process and as a result of that causes the agency to not comply with its obligations” under the Freedom of Information Act, “that is a serious problem,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.