FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
October 30, 2014
Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, firstname.lastname@example.org
BREAKING: Snyder Admin Destroys Emails Sought Through FOIA
DCH Director emails illegally deleted after being requested by watchdog group
LANSING – Progress Michigan learned today that the Michigan Department of Community Health has illegally purged department head communications from its databases.
Three departments within Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration are using stall tactics, illegal maneuvers and unnecessary staff reviews to keep communications between department directors and top officials in the Governor’s office secret.
The Department of Community Health at first denied an August 21 FOIA request for emails between Gov. Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and DCH Director Jim Haveman on September 25 and stated that records being sought by Progress Michigan did not exist. Progress Michigan filed an appeal on October 16 with the department that included copies of emails between Haveman and Muchmore that had been obtained through separate FOIA requests.
Today, the department admitted to Progress Michigan that all documents pertaining to Director Haveman were deleted upon his resignation from DCH, which was after Progress Michigan’s original request for documents.
Haveman’s resignation was effective September 12, while Progress Michigan’s FOIA was pending.
“Clearly this administration believes that they are above the law and accountability to the public,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Gov. Rick Snyder has promised time and again that he would run an honest and open government. It’s time for Gov. Snyder to show leadership, order the departments to release all documents and allow Michigan citizens to see how his administration truly operates.”
In addition to the Department of Community Health, two other departments have also recently stonewalled the release of public information. Both appear to be trying to withhold information until after the November election.
The Department of Corrections told Progress Michigan Wednesday that a recent FOIA request would not be completed until late next week. However, the department has previously communicated to Progress Michigan that most of the documents were ready for release. Today, Progress Michigan staff has asked for the completed documents and have now been told by a FOIA coordinator that he is unable to release the documents without “running it up the flagpole.”
The Department of Human Services informed Progress Michigan staff that documents were ready for delivery on Wednesday upon full payment. However, after receiving full payment, the department reversed course and would not release documents until the communications office had reviewed them. When asked why the department changed course, Progress Michigan was told that it was due to the fact that the FOIA involved Director Maura Corrigan and the communications office needed to review them before releasing the documents.
“The public has a right to this information and these blatantly political stall tactics will not be tolerated,” Scott continued. “Our attorney has drafted a letter informing the Michigan State Police of the alleged illegal action of the Department of Community Health. We will not stop fighting until the public is granted their right to an open and honest government.”