Essential Information’s mission is to provide provocative information to the public on important topics neglected by the mass media and policy makers. The group has long utilized public records laws to obtain critical government documents. Carrying on that tradition, Essential’s current legal team uses the federal Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws to assist investigative researchers at Essential and elsewhere by helping them obtain records held, and often wrongfully withheld, by government agencies. These important topics include the environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel production and the corporate capture of our democracy. Essential’s legal team files administrative appeals and lawsuits on behalf of investigative journalists and researchers where they have been stonewalled by federal, state, or local agencies.

Examples of our work:

  • Lawsuit in the Eastern District of Tennessee alleging violations of FOIA by the Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Lawsuits alleging violations of FOIA by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Administrative appeals to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records and to the D.C. Office of the Mayor
  • Administrative appeals to the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality, White House Office of Management and Budget, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Federal Aviation Administration

Our Team:

Allison Kole, Counsel

Allison Kole serves as Counsel at Essential Information Inc., representing Essential staff and researchers at watchdog organizations with Freedom of Information Act challenges and with other media-related issues. Allison assists clients with public records request strategy, negotiations, and appeals, and has successfully litigated cases in federal court challenging unlawful withholdings by federal agencies.

Prior to joining Essential, Allison was on the litigation team for the landmark constitutional climate case Juliana v. United States, was a legal researcher for Climate Investigations Center, and spent a year as a litigation fellow with Earthjustice in Washington, D.C. Before attending George Washington University Law School, Allison co-directed an award-winning documentary, “Married in Spandex,” and worked on environmental and human rights campaigns with Greenpeace and Amnesty International.

Zehava Robbins, Public Records Counsel

Zehava Robbins is Public Records Counsel for Essential Information, Inc. She works with investigative journalists and researchers to fight for transparency and accountability under the federal Freedom of Information Act and state public records laws, filing administrative appeals and lawsuits where necessary to obtain responsive records.

Before joining Essential, Zehava worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in their Conviction Integrity Unit and then their Civil Litigation Unit, where she handled requests and appeals under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law. After graduating from Stanford Law School, Zehava also clerked for Justice Frank Gaziano of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Having problems with your public records request? Zehava can be reached at [email protected].