Next to the Federal Election Commission’s front door is a quotation from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
But the agency is refusing to uncloak a pricey, taxpayer-funded study that details decay in the security and management of its computer systems and networks, which the Center for Public Integrity revealed had been successfully infiltrated by Chinese hackers in October 2013.
The report — known within the FEC as the “NIST study” — also provides recommendations on how to fix the FEC’s problems and bring its computer systems in line with specific National Institute of Standards and Technology computer security protocols.
In denying the Center for Public Integrity’s Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the study, the FEC primarily cited the “deliberative process privilege” in federal law, which is designed to “prevent injury to the quality of agency decisions.”
The Center for Public Integrity has appealed the decision of the FEC, which is responsible for enforcing and regulating the nation’s election laws and providing timely public disclosure of fundraising and spending by thousands of federal political candidates and committees.