AG Bob Ferguson sues federal agencies after no response

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued three federal agencies on Monday after six months of no response regarding the closure of the National Archives in Seattle.

The three federal agencies sued in U.S. District Court are the General Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives.

A fourth federal agency, the Public Buildings Reform Board, had made the recommendation to close the archives and move its contents in January.

The agency demanded $65,400 to Ferguson’s office in July in order to redact the public records associated with the decision to close the archives, the attorney general told The Seattle Times. 

“This is not a national security issue,” Ferguson said. “What do they have to redact? It’s a property sale. It’s outrageous that after six months, they want the taxpayers of Washington to pay $65,000 so they can make redactions.”

The lawsuit asks the court to force the agencies to respond to the attorney general’s Freedom of Information Act request within 20 days, as required by law.

“We don’t comment on litigation matters,” the National Archives said in an email on Monday.

The buildings reform board made the decision to close the facility in January after it concluded that the 73-year-old building had “a deferred maintenance backlog of $2.5 million,” and that its annual maintenance costs were $357,000.

Letters from the two U.S. Senators from Washington, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as both senators from Alaska, Oregon and Idaho drew no response from the buildings board.

One of the board members, Angela Styles, said in January that the group was “not required by statute to seek public input first.”

The board ruled that it was more financially prudent to sell the 10 acres of land the building sits on to housing developers.

The history of 272 federally recognized Native American tribes is located in the archives building. The building is also home to a number of original Native American treaties.