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A House Democrat Told These Government Agencies That Their Emails With Her Won't Be Kept Secret

The Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee had previously sent a letter to agencies instructing them to decline FOIA requests relating to communications between the two offices.

Last updated on May 17, 2017, at 1:16 p.m. ET

Posted on May 17, 2017, at 12:52 p.m. ET

Zach Gibson / Getty Images

The top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter Wednesday to at least three government agencies informing them that their correspondence with her won't be kept from public view — a move opposing what the committee's Republican chairman said last month.

Congressman Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas who chairs the committee, sent letters in April to the heads of several federal agencies overseen by the Financial Services Committee, declaring that communication and documents produced between the two offices will remain in the committee's control and will not be considered "agency records" — and therefore exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Credit Union Administration all responded to Hensarling’s letter agreeing to decline requests to release documents if requested under FOIA.

Rep. Maxine Waters — who strongly opposed Hensarling's letters, previously calling them "the height of hypocrisy" — informed those three agencies that her communication with them was, in fact, subject to open records laws.

"While I understand that you have agreed to comply with the Chairman's policy, I write to clarify that I do not share the Chairman's position," Waters's letter reads.

"I have long understood that my and my staff's communications with executive branch agencies are subject to FOIA disclosure barring an explicit assertion on my part to retain control over such documents," she writes. "While Chairman Hensarling has chosen to make this assertion, I want to be clear that he does not speak on my behalf in this instance."

Messages to Waters were not immediately returned. Hensarling, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Credit Union Administration did not respond to requests for comment.

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