ALEC - AGs Request (Rhode Island)

Alex Richardson filed this request with the Office of the Attorney General of Rhode Island.
Est. Completion None
Status
Payment Required

Communications

From: Alex Richardson

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act ("APRA"), I hereby request the following records:

- All communications between members of this office and employees or representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
- All communications containing the keywords "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council".
- Any files or documents attached to the above communications.

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 fees cannot be waived, 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 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Alex Richardson

From: Lisa Pinsonneault

Dear Alex:

Kindly provide the time frame for which you are seeking these records. Please note that this Department’s time to respond to this Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”) request is tolled pending the receipt of the time frame requested in this email. Thank you, Lisa

From: Alex Richardson

Dear Lisa,

How does the period from 2010 to the present sound? Let me know if you need any other clarification, etc. - I'll be happy to help! A few AG offices have realized that this request pertains to thousands of docs. If that's the case here, we can narrow things down to something a little more exact.

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Lisa Pinsonneault

Hi Alex,

Thank you for your prompt response narrowing the scope to five (5) years. The request remains extremely broad, such that arguably, we would have to search the computer of every employee. You indicate you could be even more exact. If you could narrow the APRA request further, this would be less onerous and, as such, less costly. See R.I. Gen. Laws Section 38-2-4 (“Hourly costs for search and retrieval shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour and no costs shall be charged for the first hour of a search or retrieval.”). Please note that this Department’s time to respond to this Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”) request is tolled pending the receipt of the information requested in this email. Thank you, Lisa

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Lisa,

Is there a centralized archive system for emails of members of the AG's office (or state DOJ)? This might cut down considerably on initial search time. Most of the other states I've made this request to had something of the sort, but every state is different.

Once you've performed a search (if it's possible like this), let me know how many docs you come up with. If it's massive and cumbersome, do let me know. If there isn't a centralized way to search through emails, maybe we can try a different tact.

Thanks,
Alex Richardson

From: Lisa Pinsonneault

Dear Alex:

Please be advised that I have confirmed with this Department’s IT section, that with our current system, there is no centralized way to search through emails. I will await your further request. Until then, the time for this Department to respond to your APRA request is tolled. Thank you, Lisa

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Lisa,

Alright, let's do this then. Please limit the search to the Attorney General himself (and his predecessor if relevant) and his immediate staff. Do bear in mind that this includes personal emails in any case where the government employee was acting in his/her official capacity.

For simplicity, this is what I recommend:

- Obtain the usernames and passwords for the government emails of each identified employee and perform the search from a single computer.
- Search for any emails containing the keywords "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council"
- Perform a separate search for any emails that include an email address with the domain "@ALEC.org"
- Request that the relevant employees perform a search of their personal email inboxes in order to find any communications with a member of ALEC.

Good luck! Let me know how many records you turn up and we can move from there. If I were you, I'd ask that they invest in a record-keeping system in the future.

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Lisa Pinsonneault

Hi Alex,

I am interpreting “immediate staff” to mean Attorney General Kilmartin’s two (2) executive assistants. Would you please confirm that my interpretation is correct? The time to respond is tolled pending this clarification. Thank you, Lisa

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Lisa,

That sounds pretty reasonable to me, thanks for checking in!

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Lisa Pinsonneault

VIA EMAIL ONLY
requests@muckrock.com<mailto:requests@muckrock.com>

Mr. Alex Richardson
MuckRock News
Dept MR 17790
P.O. Box 55819
Boston, Massachusetts 02205-5819

Dear Mr. Richardson:

Your Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”) Request dated May 13, 2015, has been forwarded to me for response. You seek copies of the following:

“All communications between members of [the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General] and employees or representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council

All communications containing the keywords ‘ALEC’ or ‘American Legislative Exchange Council’

Any files or documents attached to the above communications.”

By emails dated May 19, 21, and 26, 2015, you confirmed that the search period is from January 1, 2010 through May 26, 2015. You also confirmed that this search was limited to the Attorney General himself (and his predecessor, if relevant) and his immediate staff. You confirmed that the phrase “immediate staff,” meant Attorney General Kilmartin’s two (2) executive assistants.

Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws Section 38-2-2(4)(M), “[c]orrespondence of or to elected officials with or relating to those they represent and correspondence of or to elected officials in their official capacities [shall not be deemed public].” As such, your request for all responsive communications involving Attorney General Kilmartin himself, if any, is denied and based upon the provision cited, no reasonable segregable portion can be provided.

Regarding your request pertaining to Attorney General Kilmartin’s executive assistants, I would estimate that search and retrieval will require four and one half (4.5) hours, with the first hour free. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-4(b). Please be advised that payment does not guarantee that the records you have requested constitute public records (in whole or in part, i.e., redacted), or that any responsive records exist, but only authorizes this Department to conduct its search and retrieval to determine whether any responsive records exist, and if so, whether the responsive documents are public records, either in whole or in part. We also cannot anticipate at this point how make pages will be copied. Accordingly, please forward a check or money order made payable to the “State of Rhode Island” in the amount of $52.50 (4.5 hours at $15.00 per hour, with the first hour free of charge).

Should actual search, retrieval, and copying fees exceed pre-payment, this Department will advise you to seek authorization before continuing. Should your pre-payment exceed actual search, retrieval, and copying, you will, of course, be reimbursed. Due to the number of pending APRA requests and the difficulty in searching for and retrieving or copying the requested records, it is necessary to extend the time to respond an additional twenty (20) business days. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-3(e). Notwithstanding this extension, the time period for this Department to respond to your request is also tolled as of the date of this letter pending pre-payment and authorization.

This decision can be appealed pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-8.

Very truly yours,

Lisa A. Pinsonneault
Special Assistant Attorney General
Department of Attorney General
150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel.: (401) 274-4400, Ext. 2297
Fax: (401) 222-3016

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE:

This email and any documents accompanying this transmission may contain legally privileged/confidential information. The information is intended only for the inspection and use of the recipient (s) named above. If you are not an intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any inspection, use, disclosure, copying, distribution, or exploitation of, or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this transmission is unauthorized and prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately by telephone to arrange for return of the original documents to us at our expense.

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