Michael K. Evans Emails To NJ-DOLWD

Taylor-Scott Amarel filed this request with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development of New Jersey .
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Communications

From: Taylor-Scott Amarel

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Open Public Records Act ("OPRA"), I hereby request the following records:

I am requesting all email records from between Michael K. Evans and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Officials in relation to EB-5 projects and census track requests or communications between January 1, 2013 and Present Day. To help facilitate this search, you may use the email address mevans@evanscarrollecon.com and search for requests to the NY DOLWD relating to EB-5 census track approvals, requests, and other matters.

For example, On May 6, 2015, Michael K. Evans, a consultant working on behalf of the project, sent an email to an official in the New Jersey Department of Labor asking that the Bay Street vicinity be deemed an area with high unemployment. Individual states are responsible for reviewing unemployment data and issuing letters certifying that projects qualify for the federal program.

Evans wrote that such an area could be created by combining 26 census tracts in Jersey City that stretch more than two miles to the northwest and three miles to the southwest. A portion of the email is show as follows: “The client as always is in a great hurry so if you can e-mail me the letter as soon as it is finished it would be appreciated,”

Three weeks later, the state wrote back that the project qualified under a different but similarly attenuated configuration that achieved the same goal. New Jersey’s state website says it will help developers “perform a special tabulation for the area” of their project using census data.

I would like to obtain all similar email records and correspondence between the state and Michael K. Evans. In the example above, the correspondence relates to Kushner Companies and KABR Group as they sought to build the Bay Street tower and obtain a appropriate TEA census track. For the purposes of this request, priority may be given to documents and correspondence relating to the 65 Bay Street tower or the proposed 1 Journal Square project.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 7 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Taylor-Scott Amarel

From: Department of Labor and Workforce Development

I apologize for the delay. I should be able to provide a full response within the next several business days.

From: Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Taylor-Scott Amarel:

This is in reply to two separate government records requests that were submitted to this office via fax on November 4, 2017, wherein you sought the following:

Request #1

"[A]ll email records from sent to, copied to, or sent by Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., Commissioner, State Department of Labor and Workforce Development containing at least one of the following non-sensitive key-strings "Kushner" or "trump" or "Journal Square" or "65 Bay Street" or "KABR" or "QuioWai," from January 1, 2014 to Present Day."

Request #2

"[A]ll emails records from between Michael K. Evans and Department of Labor and Workforce Officials in relation to EB-5 projects and census track requests or communications between January 1, 2013 and Present Day. To help facilitate this search, you may use the email address mevans@evanscarrollecon.com<mailto:mevans@evanscarrollecon.com> and search for requests to the NY [sic] DOLWD relating to EB-5 census track approvals, requests, and other matters."

In order to respond to your requests, I asked the Department's Division of Information Technology to run the following searches of the Department's email system:

Search #1

All emails for the period from January 1, 2014 to present to, from, or copied to Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., using any one of the following terms: "Kushner," "Trump," "Journal Square," "65 Bay Street," "KABR," or "QiaoWai."

Search #2

All emails to or from the following email address during the period from January 1, 2013 to present: mevans@evanscarrollecon.com<mailto:mevans@evanscarrollecon.com>.

By email on November 16, 2017, I sought a two-week extension in order to respond to the two government records requests. Also by email, on December 1, 2017, in response to a follow-up email from you, I indicated that I would need additional time, adding that the search parameters that you provided had pulled in considerably more emails than I had anticipated. Because your requests did not include a contact telephone number, I asked at that time whether there was someone in your organization to whom I could speak so as to perhaps narrow the scope of the request. I did not receive a response to that request. The clarification I had been seeking is twofold.

First, inclusion of the word "trump" within the keywords for searching emails to, from or copied to Mr. Fichtner, had resulted in a great many emails, mostly emails distributing news clips, about a topic wholly unrelated to the EB-5 Visa program; namely, the closing of the Trump Plaza casino and hotel in Atlantic City and the Department's efforts to assist affected employees. I was hoping that you could confirm that you are not interested in obtaining copies of those emails. In light of the focus within your request on the EB-5 Visa program and related "census track requests," I am going to assume, unless you indicate otherwise by reply email, that you are, in fact, not interested in obtaining copies of the latter emails. Relative to the documents that I am providing in response to Request #1, I have redacted unlisted cell phone numbers pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1 and the substance of a May 11, 2017 email between Brian Murray and Karla Bardinas (copying Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D.) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1, which in pertinent part protects from disclosure inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative materials.

Second, with regard to the search for emails "between Michael K. Evans and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Officials in relation to EB-5 projects and census track requests," I intended to ask whether this includes emails on which Mr. Evans has been copied. Since you expressly indicated within Request #1 that you sought emails to, from or copied to Mr. Fichtner, but indicated within Request #2 a desire to obtain only emails "between Michael K. Evans and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Officials," I am going to assume, unless you indicate otherwise by reply email, that you are, in fact, not interested in obtaining emails on which Mr. Evans is copied. Therefore, within the documents attached to this email in response to your request, I have redacted all emails which are not responsive to your request; namely, those emails which are not "between Michael K. Evans and Department of Labor and Workforce Officials," but rather, are emails between Department of Labor and Workforce Development employees and others on which Mr. Evans is only copied. I have also redacted unlisted cell phone numbers pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1.

There are four attachments to this email. The attachment entitled "Fichtner emails (muckrock opra) 1 of 1" contains documents which are responsive to Request #1 (with the redactions described above). The remaining three attachments contain documents which are responsive to Request #2 (with the redactions described above).

If you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please do not hesitate to contact me either by reply email or by phone at 609-777-2960.

Sincerely,

David Fish
Executive Director
Legal and Regulatory Services
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development

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