During 1994 and 1995, the American Health Legal Foundation’s (AHLF) efforts were focused on the case of AAPS v. Clinton. The Department of Justice finally succeeded in having the case declared moot because the White House released about 263 boxes of documents. AAPS has reviewed all that material. Legal briefs and Task Force documents are available from the AAPS. We are also encouraging Congress to initiate hearings.
During discovery, AAPS was permitted to depose Ira Magaziner and other White House officials. Magaziner stated under oath that there really was no official membership list for the Task Force, and he didn’t pay much attention to the list that was kept. How, then, was he able to swear that only federal employees were members as of March 3, 1993, thereby making the Working Groups exempt from open meetings laws? The judge referred this issue to the U.S. Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. Seven months later, Eric Holder issues a report: he found no reason to prosecute Mr. Magaziner but raised serious issues about the conduct of the Justice Department. Congressional investigation may be undertaken. The sanctions issue is still open. We expect a hearing sometime soon, and AAPS is pressing for congressional investigations.
The questions involved in AAPS v. Clinton go to the heart of constitutionally government. Shall laws be written in the open by accountable, elected officials — or in secret war rooms by tax-exempt foundations, academics, and representatives of selected businesses? We believe that this case will help put a damper on future violations of the open meetings law.
Jane M. Orient, MD