Freedom of Information

National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame

The right to know about the actions of government is now an important part of America’s democratic heritage.

The legal basis of this right was established on July 4, 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act. In 1974, FOIA was strengthened with the passage of key amendments. A new measure, which would apply FOIA principles to electronic records, has been passed by House and Senate committees in the 104th Congress.

Journalists have used the act for more than three decades to generate thousands of news stories, including some of the most important exposés of our time. Using FOIA, journalists have held government accountable, exposed crime and helped shape American public policy in major ways.

Many people inside the government, legislators as well as enlightened federal administrators, contributed to FOIA’s creation and implementation. Others, including presidents and some in Congress, have unsuccessfully sought to weaken FOIA. In part, it has been the vigilance of news organizations and journalists, supported by enlightened federal leaders, which has preserved the act.

A coalition of media organizations joined in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of FOIA. One goal is to develop a plan for expanding the rights of Americans to know about their government’s actions. Another is to recognize key individuals who have demonstrated strong leadership in connection with FOIA. These men and women have developed and defended federal legislation, ensuring the right of the American public to know about the actions of its government and helping journalists use the act in their work.

The following individuals are honored for their unique roles in helping to establish, defend and utilize the legal basis for the right to know. Following James Madison’s special tribute, they are listed in alphabetical order by year of induction.

Special Recognition

James Madison

Class of 2016

Rick Blum
Debra Gersh Hernandez
Jameel Jaffer
Royce C. Lamberth
Jason Leopold
Miriam Nisbet
Seth Rosenfeld
Pete Weitzel
Corinna Zarek

Class of 2011

Jennifer LaFleur
Tony Mauro
Sean Moulton
David C. Vladeck
Anne Weismann

Class of 2006

Andy Alexander
Gary Bass
Thomas S. Blanton
Danielle Brian
David Burnham
Hodding Carter III
Tom Curley
Tom Devine
Kevin Goldberg
Morton H. Halperin
Charles W. Hinkle
Kathleen A. Kirby
Susan B. Long
Robert D. Lystad
John E. Pike
Ronald L. Plesser
Russ Roberts
A. Bryan Siebert
David Sobel
Thomas M. Susman
Mark Tapscott

Class of 2001

Steven Aftergood
Rebecca Daugherty
U.S. Rep. Don Edwards
John R. Finnegan Sr.
Harry A. Hammitt
Beryl A. Howell
Patrice McDermott
Kate Martin
John D. Podesta
J. Laurent Scharff

Class of 1996 — Charter members

Samuel J. Archibald
Scott Armstrong
U.S. Sen. Hank Brown
Harold L. Cross
Lucy A. Dalglish
Earl English
U.S. Rep. Dante Fascell
Paul Fisher
William H. Hornby
Jane E. Kirtley
Jack C. Landau
U.S. Sen. Patrick  J. Leahy
U.S. Sen. Edward Long
Paul K. McMasters
U.S. Rep. John E. Moss
J. Edward Murray
Virgil M. Newton Jr.
Jean H. Otto
James S. Pope
Harold C. Relyea
Bruce W. Sanford
Richard M. Schmidt Jr.
Sheryl L. Walter
J. Russell Wiggins