FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
June 24, 2021
Contact: Lonnie Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org
Progress Michigan to Appeal Circuit Court Decision
Wayne County deserves transparency from canvassers who tried to suppress their votes
MICHIGAN – Despite a disappointing decision from the Wayne County Circuit Court, Progress Michigan is continuing to push for transparency from the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.
After Republican board members Monica Palmer and William Hartmann refused to do their jobs as canvassers by denying the votes of Detroiters, Progress Michigan filed a FOIA request seeking any communications between these two members and other prominent Republicans that may have influenced their votes. When Palmer and Hartmann failed to respond to that request, which is their duty as public officials, the progressive watchdog group filed a lawsuit. Circuit Court Judge Susan Hubbard has dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that these communications would not be considered an “official function” of the Board of Canvassers, but Progress Michigan has filed an appeal.
Progress Michigan firmly believes that communications with constituents and others about the Board’s work are an ‘official function’ of not only these specific Board members but any public official.
At the hearing, Wayne County also argued that individual members of a multi-member body aren’t subject to FOIA and that the use of private emails by public officials don’t create public records subject to FOIA. Although Hubbard didn’t rule on those issues, they’ll be part of the Progress Michigan appeal as they are very important to advancing transparency across the state.
“Michigan has not forgotten how Trump allies and the MIGOP tried to discount the votes of majority-Black Detroit with lies and conspiracy theories,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Monica Palmer and William Hartmann were seen openly communicating with unknown parties on their cell phones during the board of canvassers meetings. They subsequently admitted to receiving a call from President Trump himself. They attacked our democracy with their initial refusal to certify election results from Detroit, and the public deserves to know why. Palmer and Hartmann are public officials and FOIA requests are not optional. The communications we’re looking for are directly related to their job as members of the Board of Canvassers and should absolutely be part of the public record. In addition to denying the public transparency in this crucial case, the dismissal by the Circuit Court sets a dangerous precedent that would obscure important records from the public and make it easier for public officials to evade accountability. We hope and believe that our appeal will be successful and we will get the answers our state, particularly the people of Detroit, need.”