The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled in favor this week of a FOIA appeal submitted by Expanding Frontiers Research (EFR). The February appeal sought further release of records obtained from the SEC on ManyOne, LLC, a company operated by controversial Utah entrepreneur Joseph Firmage. The colorful Firmage, who more recently announced his candidacy for president of the United States, used ManyOne to attract investors for a number of loosely defined technology ventures, as explored in a recent EFR article.
Records obtained by EFR were part of an SEC investigation of ManyOne, ultimately resulting in no recommended enforcement action in 2018. Material released to EFR through the FOIA thus far includes a 29-page pdf containing an interview conducted by the SEC of a former ManyOne employee. The testimony describes a corporation in which over-promising and under-delivering on both financial commitments and products were standard operating procedures.
The 29-page pdf had a number of redactions and some eleven pages withheld in full. The SEC cited FOIA Exemptions b6 and b7c for the withheld material, each of which address privacy issues. Specifically mentioned by the SEC was the withholding of third-party and staff names and telephone numbers.
However, the redacted material clearly included instances unrelated to such personally identifiable information. EFR subsequently appealed the response and select redactions, clarifying we had no objections to the withholding of staff names and similar material exempt from the FOIA, but sought release of other information, including the eleven pages withheld in full.
The SEC explained in its March 20 response to the appeal that it remanded the matter for further review. “I have reviewed the transcript released to you in part and find that an adequate review was not performed, including the determination to withhold pages 18-29 of the PDF in their entirety as non-responsive,” the SEC wrote.
View the appeal submitted by EFR and the favorable response received from the SEC:
From the March 20 SEC response:
EFR will publish and report on further records obtained from the SEC as applicable.
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