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Court Orders University of Delaware to Explain Refusal to Release Biden Senate Papers

Court Orders University of Delaware to Explain Refusal to Release Biden Senate Papers

“In my experience, politicians hide documents because they have something to hide”

What’s the big deal with these papers? And aren’t they a matter of public record?

The College Fix reports:

Court orders U. Delaware to explain its refusal to release Biden’s senate papers

After a trip to the Delaware Supreme Court, the University of Delaware has until July 22 to prove that its vast collection of then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s papers are immune from a Freedom of Information Act request made by Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Mary Johnston ordered the university to submit evidence that archives Biden gave the school in 2012 are not subject to a public records request and consequently public access.

The order came after the Delaware Supreme Court overturned a previous Superior Court decision that held that the papers were not subject to FOIA and therefore not open to public access.

In a recent email to The College Fix, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said there is “significant public interest in the materials.”

“In my experience, politicians hide documents because they have something to hide,” he said.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, reportedly sought access to 1,850 boxes of material plus electronic files, visitor logs, communication with the Biden staff, and the gift agreement itself.

After losing in the Delaware Superior Court, the plaintiffs appealed and now seek only the inter-staff communication and gift agreement requests, a move to have the best chance of success in court.

“Unless it is clear on the face of the request that the demanded records are not subject to FOIA, the public body must search for responsive records. A description of the search and the outcome of the search must be reflected through statements made under oath, such as statements in an affidavit, in order for the public body to satisfy its burden of proof,” the Supreme Court ruling stated.

“… On remand, the University bears the burden to create a record from which the Superior Court can determine whether the University performed an adequate search for responsive documents.”

Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act requires that “university documents relating to the expenditure of public funds shall be ‘public records,’” according to the University of Delaware’s own website.

Judicial Watch originally made the request in April 2020, labeling it the “fight for Joe Biden’s senate records.”

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Comments

Tell the SDNY that they are President Trump’s records. That’ll ferret them out.

Any bets on whether these documents disappear before July 22nd? “Our records were incorrect when they said we had 1850 boxes of materials from Joe Biden. So sorry!”

henrybowman | July 12, 2022 at 2:11 pm

A publicly-funded archival library to which the common man is prohibited all access.

So Joe thinks he’s the Pope, now?

    Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | July 13, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    The library is not publicly funded, but it has access to some public funds that could have been used for this. The university says, under oath, that they weren’t. Now they have to say, also under oath, how they determined this.

    But even if it turns out they were wrong, and they did use some of the public funds for handling the archive, that would only make subject to FOIA documents that specifically discuss that expenditure. No other documents relating to the archive, and certainly not the archive itself.

How much ya’ wanna bet there is a treasure trove of evidence in there that Gropey Joe is a racist, misogynistic, transphobic liar?

The University of Delaware is a state public institution. The university is the custodian of the records. In all probability, the records are to be cataloged by state employees. The records and correspondence relating to a United States Senator’s time in office. You can actually see the expenditure of public funds.

This should be a no-brainer, but then we’re talking about a liberal university, and Joe Biden.

    Milhouse in reply to ColBill. | July 13, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    The university is specifically exempt from FOIA, with certain exceptions. And most of its expenditure does not come from the state and is not public funds.

      caseoftheblues in reply to Milhouse. | July 14, 2022 at 4:09 am

      Well gee…not public funds…well except for the Federal grant money given to the majority of enrolled students that pours in AND being a land grant University…the very land it sits on…other than that…

      Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | July 14, 2022 at 10:53 pm

      Where the students get their money is none of the university’s business. When they pay it to the university, that is not public funding, it is the university’s earnings and therefore documents discussing it are not subject to FOIA.

      Where it got the land it sits on is certainly irrelevant, since that is not an expenditure.

      Remember, the only university documents that are subject to FOIA are those that discuss the expenditure of public funds.

After a trip to the Delaware Supreme Court, the University of Delaware has until July 22 to prove that its vast collection of then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s papers are immune from a Freedom of Information Act request made by Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Mary Johnston ordered the university to submit evidence that archives Biden gave the school in 2012 are not subject to a public records request and consequently public access

This is wrong. College Fix is seriously misreporting the story. There is absolutely no question that the Biden archives are not public records and are not subject to FOIA. The Delaware superior court said so and the supreme court agreed. The statute specifically excludes all university documents from FOIA unless they discuss the expenditure of public funds. DCNF and Judicial Watch don’t dispute that.

What they have asked for are any documents by the university (i.e. not in the archive) that discuss the expenditure of public funds in relation to the archive. The university’s response was that no public funds have been used, so there can’t be any documents discussing this. The supreme court said that’s not enough, you have to say it on oath, so the university did so.

Now the superior court has said that’s not enough either, you have to tell us how you know this, i.e. who told you. Not necessarily by name, but at least by position. And if it turns out that you can’t verify that no public funds were used, then you have to search for any documents that might exist discussing such a use of public funds, and tell us under oath how that went.

But none of this relates to the archive itself, which everyone agrees is not subject to FOIA.

The order came after the Delaware Supreme Court overturned a previous Superior Court decision that held that the papers were not subject to FOIA and therefore not open to public access.

Wrong again. the supreme court upheld that superior court decision.

All business have costs that are referred to as “overhead”. US Government contractors, including the University of Delaware, have an approved overhead rate they add on the the direct costs (labor and material) of a contract. This rate includes the cost of utilities, insurance, management salaries and benefits, capitol equipment, maintenance etc. It’s usually around 30 cents of every contract dollar. Delaware may be storing Bribem’s records for “free”, but these overhead costs are still incurred…If the University is using any government funds whatsoever to store the records they are subject to FOIA request. I doubt they have a Go Fund Me page to independently pay for the heating and cooling of the records.

    Milhouse in reply to Chet. | July 14, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    Remember that most of the university’s expenditures are not government funds. Government grants are used only for specific purposes that the university decides to use them for. The university has now stated under oath that no public funds at all have been spent on the Biden collection. The superior court has said a bare statement like that is not enough, the person making the statement has to say how they know it. If they come back with an affidavit explaining how they know it, and reaffirming that it is still the case, then that’s the end of the lawsuit. Even if they don’t, the only documents that will be available will be those discussing the expenditure of public funds. The archive itself will remain exempt.