|Multi Request||Mask Mandates|
|Submitted||Aug. 25, 2021|
To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:
Emails, memos, letters, documents and other records discussing or mentioning implemented or proposed mask mandate policies, as well as discussions regarding their expiration or termination between January 1, 2020 and the present.
I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities, with some reaching over 100,000 readers in outlets such as Gizmodo, MuckRock, Motherboard, Property of the People, Unicorn Riot, and The Outline, among others. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through non-profits such as the library Internet Archive and the journalist non-profit MuckRock, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance.
As my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available, I request that fees be waived.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.
This request is filed by Tom Nash, a citizen of Virginia, in coordination with Emma North-Best.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 25, 2021. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
Good afternoon, Mr. Nash.
The Office of the Governor is in receipt of your request under the Virginia
Freedom of Information Act, § 2.2-3700, et seq. (Act).
Pursuant to § 2.2-3704(A) of the Act, all public records shall be open to
citizens of the Commonwealth, representatives of newspapers and magazines
with circulation in the Commonwealth, and representatives of radio and
television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth during the
regular office hours of the custodian of such records. Please provide
information that confirms that you are either (1) a citizen of the
Commonwealth (such as a Virginia address), (2) a representative of a
newspaper or magazine with circulation in the Commonwealth, or (3) a
representative of a radio or television station broadcasting in or into the
Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor.
Please see attached. Thank you for your help with this request!
Good afternoon, Mr. Nash.
Thank you for your response. The Governor's Office is now processing your
You have requested, "Emails, memos, letters, documents and other records
discussing or mentioning implemented or proposed mask mandate policies, as
well as discussions regarding their expiration or termination between
January 1, 2020 and the present." As stated, this request is very broad,
and implementing such a search for every employee would take many hours. I
cannot estimate the cost precisely, but it would likely be in the thousands.
However, if you can narrow the scope of your request, the search will be
more efficient and the cost lower. For example, from which employees or
departments within the Governor's Office would you like to request
documents? Is there a particular Executive Order of interest? Please also
be advised that "working papers and correspondence of the Office of the
Governor" are exempt from mandatory disclosure under § 2.2-3705.7(2)
<https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/2.2-3705.7/>, so some records would
need to be redacted or withheld.
May I call you to discuss the parameters of your request?
In the meantime, here is a link to all Executive Orders and Directives
Governor Northam has issued:
https://www.governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/ It may provide a
helpful starting point.
Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor. We look forward to
hearing back from you soon.
I do not speak by phone, only email. eDiscovery software should make the search simple regardless of the number of employees.
Dear Mr. Nash,
I had hoped to discuss this with you by phone, for efficiency's sake, but I
respect your chosen form of communication.
Unfortunately, we cannot access all employee records using eDiscovery.
With very few exceptions, each employee will have to search his or her own
records. We will then need to review every document, determine its
exemption status, and redact as necessary. The whole process will require
an enormous investment of working hours.
FOIA requires that a request be made with "reasonable specificity." §
2.2-3704(B). So that we can better assist you, please specify the
1. Which employees or departments would you like to be included?
2. "Discussing or mentioning implemented or proposed mask mandate policies"
is too broad to be practicable, especially for the specified date range of
over one and a half years. Please provide parameters for conducting a
3. The second half of your request is for "discussions" relating to the
expiration or termination of mask mandates. Discussions do not fall within
the definition of "public records" in § 2.2-3701, though they may be
memorialized in such records. Please specify which public records you wish
Once we have more specific parameters, we will provide a cost estimate.
For FOIA searches that require substantial man-hours, the cost accrues at
one half the hourly pay rate of the employee(s) performing the search. For
a search of this magnitude, we would first require a deposit according to §
2.2-3704(H) (allowing a public body to require a deposit before processing
a request whose anticipated cost exceeds $200).
The Governor's Office wishes you a pleasant Labor Day weekend. We look
forward to assisting you further.
There are no files associated with this request.