We recently made a standard FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to gain access to the SEC’s files on the $2,200 Man. We expected a dismissive bureaucratic response, but what we got actually floored us. It included the following:
We have identified approximately 309 boxes that contain records which may be responsive to your requests. We typically estimate that it will take approximately 4 hours to review the contents of 1 box of records (approximately 3,000 pages) for
responsiveness and releasability under the FOIA. However, it could take up to 8 hours per box depending on the subject matter. Therefore, our preliminary estimate at this point to review the approximately 309 boxes of records is anywhere from 1,236 to 2,472 hours, which equates to a cost between $75,396.00 and $150,792.00….
… At present we anticipate that it may take thirty-six months or more before we can begin to process a request placed in our FIFO track.
In other words, not only will you have to wait three years and pay $150,000 before the SEC will start handling your request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but we also would like you to know that our investigations of you and your firm generated approximately 927,000 pages of documents.
Not only is the agency making a mockery of FOIA, a law which exists fundamentally to provide transparency regarding government investigations. But by admitting that there are 309 boxes, each containing 3,000 pages, the SEC is also admitting the staggering extent of its witch hunt. The SEC apparently spent more than three years of total investigatory work and developed nearly 1,000,000 pages of work product fishing for evidence of bad acts by the $2,200 Man. Yet despite this mountain of work, what it found was tantamount to nothing.
Given so much work and so little to show for it, why did the SEC bring charges at all? That is really the question. My firm can never come back from the grave, but my reputation certainly can. And we won’t give up until we know.
The SEC’s response offers an unintentional admission of just how out of control this whole thing got. Its request for $150,000 isn’t merely the equivalent of two full-time salaries at the SEC, it’s almost 70 times the amount of the allegations against me, the $2,200 Man.