FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
October 7, 2021
Contact: Lonnie Scott, Lonnie@progressmichigan.org
MICRC Demands Exorbitant Amount to Fulfill Routine Progress Michigan FOIA Request
Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission requires $60,000 for public records request, reduces to $30,000 after missing deadline, obstructing transparency
MICHIGAN – In August, Progress Michigan submitted a public records request to Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for communications between commissioners and outside groups and individuals. After missing the initial response deadline and being contacted by Progress Michigan Attorney Mark Brewer, the Commission demanded more than $60,000 in order to fulfill the request. Because it missed the deadline to reply, the Commission offered to reduce the cost by 50 percent.
After the Commission’s decision to hire a law firm with Republican ties and a history of defending gerrymandered maps, Progress Michigan submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Commission, requesting all communications to or from the commissioners to anyone not on the Commission who is not Commission staff or consultants. The Commission answered this effort to ensure there is no improper outside pressure or undue influence put on the Commission by charging $30,723.12 for the requested records.
“We’ve seen these tactics used before to dissuade the public from accessing what should be publicly available information but usually by shady public officials like Bill Schuette, not a new commission founded on bringing transparency to the process of redistricting,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “As they head into the final stretches of drawing Michigan’s new maps, we strongly urge the Commission to waive these fees and fully open their process and records to the people of Michigan. If they refuse they should know that Progress Michigan will not be deterred in their quest for transparency from this Commission and will use all legal remedies available to make sure the public has access to these records.”