Hillary Clinton delivers the keynote address at the 18th annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University, in New York, April 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO/TREVOR COLLENS (Photo credit should read TREVOR COLLENS/AFP/Getty Images)
KEENE, NH - APRIL 20: Democratic presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sectetary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to employees of Whitney Brothers, an educational furniture manufacturer, at a round table discussionon April 20, 2015 in Keene, New Hampshire. This marks Clinton's first major political event in New Hampshire after announcing her campaign for president a little over a week ago. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NORWALK, IA - APRIL 15: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during a roundtable discussion with members of the small business community at Capital City Fruit on April 15, 2015 in Norwalk, Iowa. Hillary Clinton continues to campaign throughout Iowa as she makes her second bid for President of the United States. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE - APRIL 21: Secretary Hillary Clinton participates in a roundtable with administrators, teachers and students, at a Concord technical training community college in Concord, New Hampshire on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 16: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on stage during a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City. The Irish America Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 and recognizes exceptional figures in the Irish American community. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a discussion on 'our nation's urban centers,' and 'challenges from housing and transportation to education and workforce accessibility.' at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a round table conversation and press conference announcing a childhood development initiative with first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray on April 1, 2015 in New York City. The initiative is between New York City Children's Cabinet and Too Small to Fail. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 16: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raises her glass during a toast at a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City. The Irish America Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 and recognizes exceptional figures in the Irish American community. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to a press conference after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations on March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as Secretary of State. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, speaks during a news conference at the United Nations (UN) in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton defended the legality of her use of a private e-mail account and server while she served as secretary of state, saying that she had done so out of a desire for convenience but should have used a government account for work purposes. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage with Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for the official release of the No Ceilings Full Participation Report which coincides with the start of the 59th session of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women on March 9, 2015 in New York City. Global and community leaders participated in the program which looked to highlight the findings showing 20 years of global data compiled by No Ceilings reveals that there is more to done to achieve Ãfull and equal participationÃ of women and girls worldwide. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 04: Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage at the 2014 Massachusetts Conference for Women at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on December 4, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Massachusetts Conference for Women)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21: Hillary Clinton attends the New-York Historical Society 2014 History Makers Gala at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on November 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21: Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Cookstoves Future Summit on November 21, 2014 in New York City. Clinton, who is the Leadership Council Chair for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, spoke to donors, activists and members of the media on the importance of clean cookstoves for families in parts of the developing world. Globally, 3 billion people rely on solid fuels to cook. This has resulted in polluted household air that kills over 4 million people every year and sickening millions more. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves looks to replace old stoves with more efficient and cleaner one's which would drastically reduce the negative health issues associated with older stoves. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 01: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigns for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) during the 'Women with Mary Geaux Vote' event at the Sugar Mill on November 1, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Landrieu is faced off against two Republicans for the senate seat, Rep. Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 15: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaches for U.S. Senate Democratic candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) while campaigning for Grimes October 15, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. Grimes remains locked in a tight race with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with midterm elections less than three weeks away. Also pictured is Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (L). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles while Incumbent New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a 'Women for Cuomo' campaign event on October 23, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, NY. Cuomo was joined by Clinton who, citing his record on women's rights, endorsed him in the upcoming gubernatorial election on November 4, 2014. U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, the Democratic nominee for New York Lt. Gov., also spoke at the event. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), on September 24, 2014 in New York City. The annual meeting, established in 2005 by President Clinton, convenes global leaders to discuss solutions to world problems. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards at Sheraton Times Square on September 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Former president of United States (US) Bill Clinton (R) and his wife, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L), leave St. Ignatius Loyola Church after the funeral of former three-term governor Mario Cuomo on January 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Hillary Clinton, Michael Esper and Bill Clinton pose backstage at the hit musical 'The Last Ship' on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theater on December 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Event honoree Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage during the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple Of Hope Awards at the New York Hilton on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: (L-R) Tony Bennett, Donato Tramuto, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kerry Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, and Robert De Niro attend the RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at Hilton Hotel Midtown on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for RFK Ripple Of Hope)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Honoree Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) accepts an award from Ethel Kennedy at the RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at Hilton Hotel Midtown on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for RFK Ripple Of Hope)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 16: Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her book 'Hard Choices' at BookHampton on August 16, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to sign her book 'Hards Choices' at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Martha's Vineyard on August 13, 2014. Clinton on August 12 denied attacking US President Barack Obama over his foreign policy in Syria and Iraq, insisting she was looking forward to 'hugging it out' with the US leader when they meet at a party later this week. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 23: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a during a round table event to launch the 'Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing' campaign at the
Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute on July 23, 2014 in Oakland, California. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 'Talking is Teaching; Talk Read Sing' campaign in partnership withToo Small to Fail and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation that encourages parents and caregivers to close the word gap by talking, singing and reading to children every day from the birth. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and US President barack Obama (R) are greeted by Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) at her residence in Yangon on November 19, 2012 . Obama arrived in Myanmar for a historic visit aimed at encouraging a string of dramatic political reforms in the former pariah state. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) looks on as US President Barack Obama (2nd L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (2nd R) on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 20, 2012. During the two-day East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Obama was scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japan's Yoshihiko Noda. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton board Air Force One at the airport in Yangon on November 19, 2012. Huge crowds greeted Barack Obama in Myanmar on the first visit by a serving US president to the former pariah state to encourage a string of startling political reforms. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(2nd-L), First Lady Michelle Obama(L) along with former president Bill Clinton(3rd-L) and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton(4th-L) take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the late 35th president of the US John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery on November 20, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States (R), speaks next to Christoph Amend, editor in chief of Zeit Magazin, during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to speak at the World Bank May 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim joined others to speak about women's rights. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department has failed to turn over government documents covering Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that The Associated Press and others requested under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act ahead of her presumptive presidential campaign. They include one request AP made four years ago and others pending for more than one year.
The agency already has missed deadlines it set for itself to turn over the material.
The State Department denied the AP's requests, and rejected the AP's subsequent appeals, to release the records sought quickly under a provision in the law reserved for journalists requesting federal records about especially newsworthy topics.
In its requests, the AP cited the likely prospect of Clinton entering the 2016 race. The former first lady is widely considered the leading Democratic contender hoping to succeed President Barack Obama. She has made scores of recent high-profile speeches and public appearances.
On Wednesday, the conservative political advocacy group Citizens United sued the State Department for failing to disclose flight records showing who accompanied Clinton on overseas trips.
Citizens United, which in 2009 mounted a legal battle that led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning campaign finance limits, said the department unlawfully was withholding the records it sought nearly five months ago.
The State Department is among the U.S. government's worst-performing federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. There is no direct evidence that political considerations in a Democratic presidential administration have delayed the release of files about the party's leading contender for 2016. But the agency's delays, unusual even by government standards, have stoked perceptions about what could be taking so long.
"There may not necessarily be political interference, but if the department went out of its way to speed these documents there would be no way for people to accuse them of it," said Thomas Blanton, who has previously sued the State Department for access to records as director of George Washington University's National Security Archive, a research organization.
The department "is stonewalling us," said Citizen United's president, David Bossie. He asserted that "these decisions are being made with Hillary Clinton's intentions at heart," but acknowledged he could provide no evidence of political interference.
Bossie, a former Republican congressional investigator who researched figures in the Clinton administration, said his group's film unit wants the records for a sequel to its documentary about Clinton, which spurred the Citizens United court decision.
The group first asked Air Force officials for passenger lists from Clinton's overseas trips but was told all flight records were under the State Department's control. "These were Air Force flights and crews but State has the records?" he said, adding that his group has submitted 15 Clinton-related requests in the past six months.
The AP's requests go further back.
The AP requested copies of Clinton's full schedules and calendars from her four years as secretary of state; her department's decision to grant a special position for longtime aide Huma Abedin; Clinton's and the agency's roles in the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices; and her role overseeing a major Defense Department contractor. The AP made most of its requests last summer, although one was filed in March 2010.
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach cited the department's heavy annual load of FOIA requests - 19,000 last year - in saying that the department "does its best to meet its FOIA responsibilities." He said the department takes requests "first in, first out," but noted that timing depends on "the complexity of the request." He declined to comment on Citizen United's suit.
In a previous communication, a State Department official apologized for its own delays responding to AP's records requests without offering any explanation for the delays.
"We sincerely regret the delay," said Lela H. Ross of the Office of Information Programs and Services, which administers the agency's requests. The official did not explain the delays but cited the agency's "complex and lengthy administrative FOIA process."
Last May, the State Department told the AP that its search for records pertaining to Clinton and the defense contractor would be completed by August. The agency said it now expects the files to be available later this month. Similarly, the agency said the Clinton and Abedin records would likely be completed in September. Now it says it will not finish until next April. The 4-year-old FOIA request still has no estimated completion date.
The agency's pace responding to requests for Clinton-related files has frustrated news organizations, archivists and political groups trying to research her role at the State Department in the months before Clinton decides whether to formally enter the 2016 race.
At stake is the public's access to thousands of documents that could help understand and define her activities as the nation's chief diplomat under Obama.
Other major document repositories have released thousands of pages of files about Clinton's private and public life.
Since February, lots of previously restricted records from her years as first lady to President Bill Clinton have been made public by the Clinton Presidential Library. Last month, the University of Virginia's Miller Center presidential oral history collection unveiled dozens of interviews with key players from the Clinton White House.
The State Department generally takes about 450 days to turn over records it considers to be part of complex requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That is seven times longer than the Justice Department and CIA, and 30 times longer than the Treasury Department.
An inspector general's report in 2012 criticized the State Department's practices as "inefficient and ineffective," citing a heavy workload, small staff and interagency problems. A study in March by the nonpartisan Center for Effective Government said the State Department was the worst-performing agency because of its delays and frequent failure to deliver the full number of files that people requested.