The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has filed a lawsuit against the University of Michigan concerning Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) concerning emails.

The University of Michigan’s President Mark Schlissel has been a harsh critic of Donald Trump when he was a candidate for President and as the President.  Because of this a reporter from the Mackinac Center’s Michigan Capitol Confidential news service was curious about what Mr. Schlissel said about President Trump in his official capacity as the President of U of M.

The reporter Derek Draplin filed a FOIA request asking for the President of U of M’s emails from his official email account between July 1, 2016 and Nov. 16, 2016 concerning President Trump.

John C. Mozena, Mackinac Center vice president for marketing and communications and publisher of Michigan Capitol Confidential was quoted in their statement saying:

“In his professional role as head of a public university, President Schlissel took a very public stance against President-Elect Trump and the people who elected him.  Our CapCon team was interested in learning more about the decision-making process that led to the actions taken by this public university and its employee, and filed the FOIA request accordingly.

 

U of M stated it would take them about 2 hours and 45 minutes to perform the work and charged the Mackinac Center for Public Policy $126.04, checks were sent and cashed but to date no records have been supplied to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

U of M stated it would take them about 2 hours and 45 minutes to perform the work and charged the Mackinac Center for Public Policy $126.04, checks were sent and cashed but to date no records have been supplied to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The question really is why has the University of Michigan not complied with Michigan law?  They certainly are good at and prompt to cash checks sent to them by Michigan taxpayers and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  Are they concerned of what was said in those emails, do they not care to answer the request, if so why cash the check, or are they just using delay tactics in hope that it will just go away.

Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick J. Wright, who will be on the Live with Renk show today at 11:06 am to discuss the lawsuit, stated in a statement issued by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

This lawsuit should not be necessary, this was a simple request. Any of us could find the relevant documents in 30 seconds with a simple word search in our sent email folder. There is no reason it should take over 100 days for the University of Michigan to follow the law.

U of M sponsored many events held for students upset by the election results, these events caused hundreds of students to speak out against Schlissel and the university’s treatment of students who did support President Trump.

According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s statement the timeline was as follows:

  • The FOIA request was filed Nov. 16.
  • On Dec. 12, a university representative informed Draplin it would take 2 ¾ hours of work and cost $126.04 to complete the request.
  • The Mackinac Center’s good faith deposit check of $63 was sent Dec. 15 and deposited on Dec. 20.
  • The university was closed from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2.
  • On Jan. 10, the university said it would provide the records in 14 days, yet nothing was sent by that date.
  • On Jan. 27, the university said the documents would be available in 7 to ten days, but again, nothing was sent.
  • On Feb. 9, the university informed Draplin that four emails matched his request and asked for the remaining $72.15 in fees.
  • On Feb. 22, the university cashed the Mackinac Center’s check required to fulfill the request.
  • As of March 1, no documents have been received.

Michigan’s open records law requires a government agency, including public universities like the University of Michigan, to respond to a request within five business days.

Let us find out the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s side of the story today on the Live with Renk show.

The Live with Renk Show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. To let me know your thoughts during the show please call (269) 441-9595.