Two watchdogs groups that sued department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson have announced they have reached a settlement of $17,800. The groups originally sued Carson for taking part in weekly Bible study meetings at the White House.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said they were denied Freedom of Information Act requests about Carson's schedule and the Bible study, which has been attended by several Cabinet members.
FFRF also slammed Pastor Ralph Drollinger, who led the Bible study, as a "hate preacher" and claimed he "blamed gays" for the coronavirus pandemic in a blog post.
HUD said the media was "nothing more than activists with a political agenda" and Drollinger said his words were misrepresented.
"We should be seeing much more media outrage over these activist groups who continuously abuse legal protections in place for the media, but we don't," Matt Schuck, HUD spokesman, told Fox News.
HUD has agreed to pay FFRF $3,400 and CREW $14,400 in costs and attorney fees, according to the settlement. The department has also agreed to provide two in-person mandatory fee waiver training sessions for its FOIA office, as well as updated fee waiver guidance.
"One of the major benefits is that the updated training and guidance will ensure that citizens and groups will have access to agency records," Patrick Elliott, FFRF senior counsel, said in a statement.
Both group now have the records they were seeking.