Lawsuit Filed Over AG Bill Schuette’s Use of Private Emails for State Business

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

April 11, 2017

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

Lawsuit Filed Over AG Bill Schuette’s Use of Private Emails for State Business

Transparency and accountability are paramount to a healthy democracy

LANSING — 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 public deserves a transparent and accountable government and that’s why we’re seeking the disclosure of these emails,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “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.”

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. The personal emails were found through a number of Progress Michigan FOIA requests.

“Transparency should not be a partisan topic. Regardless of political affiliation we should all be able to agree that any state business should be conducted in the light of day and not be shielded from the public,” Scott Continued. “Our lawsuit seeks to make sure that is exactly what happens and Progress Michigan will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to make Michigan’s government more accessible and transparent.”

On September 27, 2016, Progress Michigan filed a FOIA request with the Attorney General’s office seeking all emails sent or received by a group of 21 individuals using personal emails to conduct state business. On October 19th of that year, Schuette denied the request saying his office didn’t have the records Progress Michigan was requesting. On November 26, 2016, Progress Michigan appealed and was subsequently denied.

The lawsuit can be viewed here.

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