Watchdog Group Calls for Full Transparency on Snyder Administration’s Secret “Skunk Works” Voucher Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Contact: Jessica Tramontana, jessica@progressmichigan.org, 517-974-6302

Snyder officials used private email accounts to circumvent FOIA laws

LANSING – Today the citizens’ watchdog group Progress Michigan called on Gov. Rick Snyder to publicly release any and all documents related to the secret “Skunk Works” voucher plan. According to the Detroit News, at least five Snyder administration officials “were instructed in a memo to use ‘alternative’ email accounts.”

While Snyder has attempted to distance himself from the group, yesterday the governor defended the use of private email accounts to conduct business, saying, “Yeah, they should’ve been using their private email addresses if it was private work, and we’ll follow up on that.”

“It’s time for Gov. Snyder to live up to his campaign promise of more transparency in state government,” said Zack Pohl, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “The citizens of Michigan deserve full disclosure of any and all taxpayer dollars that were spent on this secret voucher group. If the governor believes his staff has done nothing improper, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t publicly release all documents related to this project – including staff time and emails exchanged during normal business hours. Citizens deserve a more honest and open government, not more excuses from Lansing politicians.”

As a candidate in 2010, Snyder promised, “As Governor, I will ensure that government is open, fair and accountable to the citizens by making Michigan a national leader in transparency and ethics.”

One of several “Skunk Works” memos that were exchanged between special interest lobbyists and Snyder administration officials defines itself as a group “tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.” In another memo, a section labeled “Assistance” lists “Executive Office/DTMB: support, credibility, access, advice, politics,” which indicates support for the group from Gov. Snyder’s Executive Office.

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