For two groups on opposing sides of the political spectrum, requests to the Export-Import Bank for records under the Freedom of Information Act yield different results.

In November 2013, Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between a consulting firm with ties to the Clinton administration and Export-Import Bank officials. Today—more than 500 days later—the bank has yet to respond to the conservative government watchdog’s request, and Ex-Im’s delayed response has prompted congressional inquiries.

However, an examination of public FOIA logs from the bank found the super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has been more successful in obtaining records from Ex-Im.

“I hope the public by now is very aware that Ex-Im is a very non-transparent organization and that its president is a big factor in this lack of transparency,” Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, told The Daily Signal. “The public ought to be bothered by the lack of transparency, and this is yet more evidence that it is the case.”

According to the bank’s logs, American Bridge, a “progressive research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions,” filed nine FOIA requests from October 2012 to August 2014. Of those, the organization withdrew one request.

Over the last three years, American Bridge 21st Century has requested correspondence between a number of Republican politicians and Ex-Im officials including the bank’s chairman, Fred Hochberg; vice chair, Wanda Felton; and members of its Board of Directors.

The 80-year-old agency responded to five of the nine information requests filed by American Bridge. Three of those—two of which are less than one year old—remain open because of pending consultation with divisions of the bank.

On March 14, 2014, the group filed a FOIA request for correspondence between the bank and seven Republican members of Congress running for the U.S. Senate: Reps. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Steve Daines of Montana, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Paul Broun of Georgia, Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

The request was ultimately fulfilled by the bank, though Ex-Im does not publicly disclose how long it took the agency to respond.

American Bridge 21st Century also requested copies of correspondence between the bank’s Board of Directors and former Rep. Michele Bachmann in March 2013, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Hochberg in October 2012.

Ex-Im responded to both requests.

The Daily Signal reached out to both American Bridge 21st Century and Ex-Im for more information on the information requests, but neither organization answered.

“It’s quite stunning,” de Rugy said. “The discrepancy in treatment is really problematic. It shouldn’t exist. It should be a process, and there should be no difference in time.”

“It’s quite stunning. The discrepancy in treatment is really problematic. It shouldn’t exist. It should be a process, and there should be no difference in time,” said @VerodeRugy.

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‘Less Than Transparent’

Americans for Limited Government’s president, Nathan Mehrens, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ex-Im officials and employees of the consulting firm McLarty Associates close to two years ago.

McLarty Associates is run by Thomas McLarty, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. According to public records, the firm hasn’t lobbied Congress since 2005, but its clients have benefited from millions in loans and loan guarantees awarded by Ex-Im.


Additionally, a number of McLarty Associates employees served on the bank’s advisory committee between 2010 and 2013.

Mehrens submitted his FOIA request to Ex-Im on Nov. 5, 2013. According to the bank’s records, the relevant documents are currently in the midst of a legal review—more than 500 days later.

Ex-Im’s delay of a response to Americans for Limited Government’s request garnered the attention of Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis, who serves as the chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Last week, Duffy sent a letter to Hochberg requesting more information on the “unacceptable” delay of the request, including unredacted copies of the relevant records.

The bank has until May 11 to respond.

“Sadly, I think it’s pretty consistent with an agency that has been less than transparent about its activities and its data,” de Rugy said. “It seems that the Ex-Im Bank is committed to just blocking access to data.”

Hochberg Ties

In addition to McLarty Associates, Hochberg, Ex-Im’s chairman, also has ties to the Clinton administration.

From 1998 to 2001, Hochberg worked with then-President Clinton as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration and later served as acting administrator of the agency.

The Ex-Im chairman has also been a longtime donor to the couple. From 1992 to 2007, Hochberg personally donated a total of $11,100 to the couple—$8,600 to Hillary Clinton during her runs for the U.S. Senate and president, and $2,500 to Bill Clinton during his presidential elections.

According to a 2008 Politico report, Hochberg bundled more than $100,000 in donations for both Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator, and President Obama during the 2008 presidential election.

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