In the course of reviewing emails obtained from Michigan Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette in response to a Freedom of Information Act request last year, staff at Progress Michigan, Michigan’s primary progressive watchdog group, found nearly two dozen emails originating from the private email accounts of Schuette and some of his top staff. Based on this proof that they were violating state law that compels government officials and staff to conduct all state business using their state government email accounts, Progress Michigan then submitted a new FOIA request for all emails related to government business that were sent and received from these private accounts.
Despite the fact that there is tangible proof that these emails exist, Schuette’s department refused to comply. After going through all of the procedures in place to appeal the decision, Progress Michigan made no … errr … progress. So, their only recourse was to sue Schuette and his department to force them to comply with the law.
Progress Michigan has filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims regarding the use of personal emails to conduct state business by Attorney General Bill Schuette and his staff. Progress Michigan has found evidence of Schuette’s office using personal email accounts to conduct state business and sought the emails through the Freedom of Information Act, but Schuette is claiming his office has no information of that sort. […]
The lawsuit states that, while doing previous FOIA requests, Progress Michigan discovered numerous personal emails being used by Schuette and his staff to conduct state business. Progress Michigan sent a FOIA request asking for the emails that used those personal emails to conduct state business. Schuette’s office denied the request saying the department “does not possess” the emails, despite the fact that Progress Michigan has proof that such emails exist.
Progress Michigan discovered nearly two-dozen emails that used personal — not state — email accounts from 13 AG office staffers, including Bill Schuette, to conduct State of Michigan business.
Read more about their lawsuit HERE.
Lonnie Scott, Progress Michigan executive director, explains why his group is taking the action: “The public deserves a transparent and accountable government and that’s why we’re seeking the disclosure of these emails,” he said . “Clearly there’s a problem when we find numerous examples of an elected official like Bill Schuette, and members of his staff, using personal emails to conduct state business – but for them to then deny the existence of documents which we have proof exist, we knew we had to take further action to find the truth.”
Lonnie was on our podcast this week talking about this lawsuit and you can listen to it HERE.
Lawsuits like this are expensive and Progress Michigan, like most progressive groups, operates on a shoestring budget compared with their conservative counterparts. In order to help defray the costs of this undertaking, they have started at CrowdJustice crowd-sourcing fundraiser. Please support their effort by clicking HERE and making a donation. The fight for transparency and honesty, particularly from our state’s top law enforcement official, is crucial to a functioning democracy. Please help them with a donation today.