Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of itself and The Daily Caller News Foundation against the University of Delaware for former Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate records.
In 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden donated more than 1,850 boxes and 425 gigabytes of digital records that covered the 36 years he was in the Senate to the University of Delaware. The university said the archival records, which contain committee reports, draft legislation, and correspondence would be made “available to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected public office”. The university changed the agreement just prior to Joe Biden announcing his candidacy for president in April 2019. The University now has stated that the records won't be made available to the public until two years after he "retires from public office".
Both Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller filed FOIA requests with the University of Delaware on April 30, 2020. Judicial Watch's request included, "All records regarding the proposed release of the records pertaining to former Vice President Joe Biden’s tenure as a Senator that have been housed at the University of Delaware Library since 2012. This request includes all related records of communication between the University of Delaware and any other records created pertaining to any meeting of the Board of Trustees during which the proposed release of the records was discussed. And all records of communication between any representative of the University of Delaware and former Vice President Biden or any other individual acting on his behalf between January 1, 2018 and the present".
The Daily Callers request included, "All agreements concerning the storage of more than 1,850 boxes of archival records and 415 gigabytes of electronic records from Joe Biden’s senate career from 1973 through 2009, communications between the staff of the University of Delaware Library and Joe Biden or his senatorial, vice-presidential or political campaign staff, or for anyone representing any of those entities between 2010 [April 30, 2020] about Joe Biden’s senate records, any logs or sign-in sheets recording any individuals who have visited the special-collections department where records from Joe Biden’s senate career are stored between 2010 to the date of this request, and all records from Joe Biden’s Senate career that have been submitted to the University of Delaware Library".
Both requests were denied in May and spokeswoman Andrea Boyle said in a statement, "The papers are public records and under agreement with Mr. Biden, they can not be made public until they have been processed. The University of Delaware received the Biden Senatorial Papers as a gift from Vice President Biden. We are currently curating the collection, a process that we estimate will carry at least into the spring of 2021". She continued, "As the curating process is not complete, the papers are not yet available to the public, and we are not able to identify what documents or files can be found within the collection".
The Delaware Department of Justice denied The Daily Caller's appeal on July 1, saying its request to access Biden’s Senate records “is an inappropriate use of FOIA that does not advance FOIA’s objective of furthering the accountability of government to its citizens”.
The Daily Caller News Foundation Co-Founder and President Neil Patel said, “The University of Delaware should do the right thing and turn over Joe Biden’s public records as required by law,” He continued, “Partisan gamesmanship by a public university is unseemly and unlawful. If they don’t want to do the right thing, we will force them in court.”
President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton said, “The University of Delaware should stop protecting Joe Biden and provide the public access to his public records, as Delaware law requires”.