SOURCE: Judicial Watch

August 10, 2007 14:39 ET

Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit Seeking Access to Security and Prosperity Partnership Advisory Group Meetings and Records

Agency's Use of North American Competitiveness Council in Violation of Federal Advisory Committee Act

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - August 10, 2007) - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez for denying Judicial Watch access to North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) meetings and records. According to the complaint, the council, which consists of "high level business leaders," advises the United States, Mexican, and Canadian governments on North American competitiveness issues to be addressed through the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). (On March 23, 2005, heads of government Vincente Fox, George W. Bush, and Paul Martin launched SPP at a meeting in Waco, Texas, with the expressed goal of "a safer, more prosperous North America.")

Judicial Watch's lawsuit alleges that the NACC, a key component of the SPP, is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a federal open meetings law. Moreover, Judicial Watch is asking the court to issue an emergency temporary restraining order mandating that Judicial Watch be allowed to attend the next NACC meeting to be held on August 20-21, in Montebello, Quebec, Canada in conjunction with the SPP summit.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act imposes a number of requirements on committees that advise the president and/or federal agencies. First, all meetings be open to the public. Second, a notice of each meeting must be published in the Federal Register. Third, interested persons must be allowed to attend, appear before, or file statements with the advisory committee. And, finally, committee records and documents must be made available through the provisions of Freedom of Information Act. The NACC has failed to satisfy any of these requirements. On July 26, Judicial Watch notified Secretary Gutierrez that it sought access to the NACC and its U.S. component subcommittee meetings and records. Judicial Watch's request was ignored.

"The North American Competitiveness Council should not be allowed to operate in secret. It is part of a government process that actively considers policies that dramatically impact the lives of all Americans," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Judicial Watch is committed to making these proceedings open and transparent to the American people."

Secretary Gutierrez launched the North American Competitiveness Council, with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, in June 2006. The council met on August 15, 2006 in Washington and again on February 23, 2007 in Ottawa, Canada. The council has provided over 50 recommendations for action to Secretary Gutierrez and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

To read the lawsuit, and to review documents pertaining to Judicial Watch's investigation of the North American Competitiveness Council and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit Judicial Watch's Internet site, www.judicialwatch.org.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jill Farrell
    202-646-5188