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AFP-Michigan Files $19K Fee Waiver Request

March 13, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Annie Patnaude
(517) 853-9073
(202) 441-5193
annie@afphq.org

State Police Assess FOIA Procurement Fee of $19K for Right-to-Work Videos; AFP-Michigan Files Fee Waiver Request
Police assess fee of $19,602 for procuring video captured during right-to-work protests

LANSING, Mich.—Americans for Prosperity-Michigan has requested the Michigan State Police waive an estimated $19,602.52 fee for procuring videos captured during the Dec. 11, 2012, right-to-work protests. AFP-MI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the videotaped material in December.

“You can’t put a price tag on the public’s right to know,” said Scott Hagerstrom, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Michigan. “Transparency is our best means to stem corruption and boost public confidence in those government servants who took an oath to serve and protect.”

On December 21, AFP-MI filed a FOIA request for videotaped material understood to be in the possession of the Michigan State Police. The State Police took a statutory extension of time to respond on Jan. 4, 2013. This was then followed by a January 18 fee notification letter outlining estimated total processing fees of $19,602.52, of which the bulk ($19,573.92) comprised “labor costs to search for, retrieve, review and examine records and to separate exempt material, if any” based on the “hourly wage of the lowest paid MSP employees capable“ of performing the job.

“On December 11, 2012, supporters of right-to-work legislation gathered under the protective shadow of their Capitol building,” said Hagerstrom. “Instead of a safe haven for civil public discourse, they were met with violence, threats of violence, and destruction of personal property. We will not allow their speech to be chilled. We will continue to endeavor to better understand what happened that day. By understanding we can ensure that such blatant disregard for first amendment rights will not be allowed to happen again.”

AFP’s fee waiver request reads in part: 

While we appreciate your efforts to comply with our request and understand that there is a cost involved in searching, examining, and reviewing your records, a waiver of the fee is warranted because the records requested would primarily benefit the general public and significantly contribute to the public’s understanding of the events that transpired on December 11, 2012, as well as the response of the Michigan State Police.

On December 11, 2012, AFP activists assembled to peaceably demonstrate in support of the passage of House Bill 4003 and Senate Bill 116.  AFP invited activists from around the state of Michigan to come to the Capitol and voice their opposition to forced unionization.  These activists traveled to the Capitol with the understanding that they would be able to make their voices heard in a safe public setting. 

Unfortunately the Capitol grounds did not provide a safe haven for civil public discourse.  AFP activists were intimidated and many fear that any future attempts to stand up for what they believe in may be met with violence. We must not allow their speech to be chilled.

As you are aware the unfortunate events of December 11, 2012, have received significant attention from the media. The violence and destruction of property perpetrated against Americans for Prosperity, our staff, and our activists have been the subject of numerous news stories, covered far and wide on national television, in print, and on the internet.

While the public has been made aware that violence, property damage, and destruction took place they do not have a complete understanding of the events that transpired. The videotaped material in possession of the Michigan State Police would significantly add to the public’s understanding of the events of December 11, 2012.  Upon receipt of the requested records AFP intends to make the material available to the public and the news media to provide a more complete understanding of the events of December 11, 2012.

Americans for Prosperity-Michigan is a statewide organization of more than 87,000 activists committed to strengthening our constitutional government, establishing fiscal restraint, and giving taxpayers greater control over government. We are dedicated to recruiting, training, educating and motivating grassroots activists to be effective in their own communities. Americans for Prosperity does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

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