Steven Palazzo Aide to Constituent: FOIA Off

Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:59pm

An inquisitive Mississippian who reached out to Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo’s Capitol Hill office for information about the Congressman’s availability back in the district has gotten a curious brush-off from staff.

Bo Alawine, who last fall mounted an unsuccessful bid to become the supervisor of Jackson County’s fourth district, vented to his local paper, the Hattiesburg American, about the fruitless exchange.

Alawine said he originally emailed Palazzo’s Washington, D.C., operation requesting the details surrounding any district events realized in 2011. An unidentified member of Team Palazzo eventually called back, only to send the amateur sleuth on a fool’s errand.

“I was informed that to receive Palazzo’s schedule for the past year, I would need to file a Freedom of Information Act request,” Alawine said in his post to the paper.

Congressional records are, of course, famously exempt from FOIA requests.

Was the Palazzo aide aware of this and still deliberately set out to “stymy [sic] any inquiry into the Congressman’s schedule” as Alawine wondered aloud on the Internet? Or might this have been a case of a fresh-faced intern unintentionally dispensing bum advice?

“Normal office policy is to provide information regarding the Congressman’s public schedule upon request.  Our office has reached out to the constituent to clear up any misunderstanding,” Palazzo spokeswoman Laura Chambers said in a statement delivered mere minutes before HOH’s deadline and hours after our initial request for comment.

“I have emailed his office on several occasions and received nothing in return, not even an acknowledgment of the original email. When I call his office, the staff members are singularly unhelpful,” Jennifer Blair relayed to the Hattiesburg American regarding her own dealings with Palazzo’s office.