Informal and Private: Veto Threats Over the Freedom of Information Act

04 September 2020, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Building from Azari and Smith’s (2012) work on informal institutions, we understand the veto bargaining function as informal, operating within the formal rules and constraints of the legislative development process, as there are no formal rules to govern presidential bargaining with Congress. The president’s power to persuade becomes contextual and situational to the issue, individual, and moment in time. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is employed as a case to examine a policy issue that presidents do not want, as it serves as a congressional check on executive power. Examining the development of FOIA, we can examine how and why presidents choose to employ a private bargaining strategy. Using the same policy issue across three administrations – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford – provides consistency in examining the political contexts on an issue each president wanted to avoid but was forced to engage with by Congress.


informal institutions
executive privilege
Lyndon B Johnson
Richard M Nixon
Gerald R Ford


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