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   Judicial Watch Expands Energy Task Force Lawsuit

Defendants include Cheney, Lay, Racicot:

Judicial Watch Expands Energy Task Force Lawsuit

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm that conducts investigations and legal proceedings to combat government corruption, has expanded its landmark lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force to include individuals, including Cheney, former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, Republican National Committee Chairman (and former Enron lobbyist) Marc Racicot, and many others to the list of defendants.

The lawsuit seeks to apply the federal open meetings law known as the Federal Advisory Committee Act to the Vice President's Task Force. If the suit is successful, the Task Force will be compelled to release to the public the lists of who attended Task Force meetings and what exactly was discussed at the meetings. After Cheney rejected Judicial Watch's request that his Task Force open its meetings to the public, the watchdog group filed suit in July, 2001. At a court hearing in the case, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan suggested Judicial Watch amend its complaint, which it has done.

In amending its lawsuit, Judicial Watch listed the alleged government members of the Task Force as defendants, including the Vice President, Secretary of State Powell, Secretary Treasury Paul OíNeill, and other top Bush officials. Published reports show that Lay, Racicot, and former RNC Chair Haley Barbour also participated in Task Force meetings. Also named is another alleged Task Force participant, Thomas Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a group close to the electric utility industry. Judicial Watch maintains that these private individuals' participation in the Task Force "bursts through" any executive or constitutional privileges the Bush White House may wish to assert. The plaintiff asserts that there is no government privilege when members of the Task Force include private individuals (all of whom, of those known, happen to represent the energy industry).

"Many conservatives and even many Republican congressmen and senators have called on the Vice President to tear down the stone wall of secrecy surrounding these meetings," said Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman in a statement to the press. "This wall of secrecy simply cannot stand. It would not stand for Hillary Clinton's Health Care Task Force and nor will it stand for Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force."


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This story was published on April 4, 2002.
  
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