Can work-related emails on a private account used by a White House official be subject to FIOA?

An appeals court is troubled over a White House official’s private email account.

A federal appeals panel seems likely to rule that work-related emails on a private account used by the White House’s top science adviser are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Three judges heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought by a conservative think tank seeking emails of John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A federal judge ruled that Holdren’s office did not have to comply with a document request from the Competitive Enterprise Institute because the agency had no control over the private email account.

But two judges on the appeals panel in Washington, D.C., seemed troubled by the lower court ruling. Judge Harry Edwards said the government’s position “makes no sense.”

Media organizations including The Associated Press have backed the lawsuit.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.