Woman pursues Oregon public records – lots of them

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A Utah woman has asked Oregon workers for any records they may have about Dwight Eisenhower and Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The state says it has no such records. But that response is unlikely to stop Barbara Schwarz, the unofficial queen of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Salt Lake City woman has submitted more than 2,000 public records requests to the federal government. The justice department has apparently had it with her, advising workers to ignore her demands until she has paid for past searches.

Schwarz has filed so many lawsuits, many of them voluminous, that a federal court has limited her public records-related complaints to new issues not to exceed 10 single-spaced pages.

Now Schwarz has turned her sights on Oregon. She has requested records from about a dozen Oregon agencies, including parks, revenue, human services and the governor’s office, said Mike Beard, spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services.

Beard said Schwarz’s requests could curb the federal Freedom of Information Act and Oregon’s public records law, crucial tools for getting contracts, correspondence and other records that document how government operates.

“Who’s to say the rules couldn’t be tightened up in response to this sort of abuse?” Beard said.

In an e-mail exchange with The Oregonian, Schwarz defended her requests as reasonable and said government workers are lazy.

“Why should a requester be satisfied with just an arbitrary ‘we have no records’ and no evidence to an ethical search? What if the employees are lying?” she wrote.

Beard estimates Schwarz has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in staff time.

“The problem is, we are responding, and that’s not good enough,” said Collier McCoid, an administrative services assistant.

Besides Hubbard and Eisenhower, Schwarz wants any records on herself, a person named either Mark C. Rathbun or Mark de Rothschild, and the Church of Scientology.

Schwarz, who has made similar requests of other states, declined to explain to The Oregonian why she is seeking those records.

Court records show Schwarz claims to be Hubbard’s daughter and Eisenhower’s granddaughter. She says she is Rathbun’s wife and that he is being held somewhere for her murder as part of a Nazi conspiracy that has infiltrated the U.S. government, according to a 2002 judicial opinion dismissing her suit against the FBI.

U.S. Justice Department officials say they don’t know of anyone who has made more records requests.

In the history of the federal public records law, “Ms. Schwarz is all alone in a category unto herself,” said Daniel J. Metcalfe, co-director of the department’s Office of Information and Privacy.

Information from: The Oregonian

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Associated Press, USA
May 3, 2004

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