ALEC - AGs Request (Wisconsin)

Alex Richardson filed this request with the Office of the Attorney General - Wisconsin of Wisconsin.

It is a clone of this request.

Est. Completion None
Status
Fix Required

Communications

From: Alex Richardson

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Wisconsin's Open Records act, 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 would request your response within ten (10) business days.

Sincerely,

Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

I am in receipt of your below public records request. We will respond to it as soon as practicable and without delay. However, before we begin our search process, I would ask that you provide a clarification. What time period is your request supposed to cover? As it is written now, it is overbroad in that it does not designate the time period for which you would like us to conduct a search. Asking us to conduct a search for an unlimited time period could be very time consuming and result in costs to you for the time it takes to locate the records.

Any assistance you could provide in narrowing the scope of your request to a specified time period would be very much appreciated. Thanks for your consideration.

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Mr. Potter,

Thanks for the quick response! How does the period 2010 to the present sound?

Please don't hesitate to reach out for more clarification! If this requests starts to look too broad, I can consider ways to narrow it down.

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

Thank you for your clarification. Let’s try this and see what we come up with in terms of responsive records.

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

I am sorry to bother you again, but I am hoping you might be able to further narrow your below request. We ran a search of our emails using the keywords you provided below and received a little over 2,900 hits. I believe many of these will be from news articles or other news related sources. Since we charge $.15/page for copies and $.14/page for electronic copies, this could be expensive and not provide you much in terms of meaningful responses. Can you be more specific as to what you are seeking?

Thank you for your consideration. We will not take any further steps until I hear back from you.

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Mr. Potter,

No problem, thanks for the heads up! I'm trying to think of how I could narrow this search to exclude news articles, etc. It's a little tricky, because my interest in this is pretty broad. Virtually any real communication involving AG office members in which ALEC is discussed or involved in the communication is of interest to me (I have an identical request in with every AG).

Let's try amending the request as follows:

- Period from Jan. 2010 to the present.
- Any communications including the keyword "American Legislative Exchange Council"
- Any communication to/from the email address "@alec.org"

If there's a lot of news spam, that might still come out pretty broad. Take a look though and let me know how many records you're coming up with, maybe this will make things small enough.

Also, may I ask if the Wisconsin ORA has a provision for waiving/reducing fees for media requesters or requests in the public interest? If so, I would like to ask that this provision be applied in my case.

Thanks,
Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

Thanks for your additional revision. We will run this and see what we find.

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

We ran your revised request and received basically the same response. The person running the search indicated your revised search parameters were essentially the same as those contained in your first request. Would you be willing to try to clarify your request further? Otherwise, this will be quite expensive as the over 2,900 emails do are likely to consist of multiple pages and possibly contain attachments which would add to the page count.

Thank you for your consideration.

From: Alex Richardson

Mr. Potter,

Oh no! Okay, let's do the following:

- Any communication to/from/cc/bcc the email address "@alec.org"
- Communications to/from/cc/bcc the attorney general him/herself and his/her assistants containing the keyword 'American Legislative Exchange Council'
- Still limited to the period from 2010 to the present.

Will this narrow things down, or is the issue that there are a lot of communications with ALEC?

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

While this is not our official response, I wanted to provide you an update on our search using your latest search parameters.

We ran the “@alec.org” search and came back with 0 hits.

We then ran the keyword “American Legislative Exchange Council” and came back with 1461 hits – so clearly, that is where the vast majority of the prior responses were from. That said, the person doing the search did a very cursory review of those emails and indicated the vast majority of them related either to emails discussing a prior public records search we did, I believe in 2013, for records pertaining to ALEC, or were emails from public articles or “Wis Politics” news updates, which is a subscription service which follows state and some federal political topics.

Do you want copies of those documents? If not, that will reduce the remaining documents significantly.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Mr. Potter,

We can discount any communications relating to public articles or from "Wis Politics," but I am somewhat interested in the previous public records search. If we include those emails, do we still have such a massive, unsearchable number?

Thanks again,
Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

After doing some follow up with our technology people, it would appear that if we extract the Wis. Politics emails from the mix it will still leave over 1,100 emails. With regard to the prior public records requests regarding ALEC you had expressed an interest in, below is a list of the ones we have identified. I have included the actual language from the requests, so you can see what they were requesting. That may allow you to determine whether you would be interested in obtaining any records which we provided in response to those requests (there were no responsive records to at least one of them). I should also clarify that most of the 1,100 emails that would be left, after extracting the Wis. Politics emails, consist of internal emails between the persons assigned to locate the responsive records from the prior ALEC requests – not the responsive documents themselves. There was a lot of back and forth trying to determine the best way to identify and locate those records, and essentially that is what you would be getting. However, if you would like, it would be relatively easy for us to pull the old request files and provide you copies of the responses we previously provided.

Public records request for “access to and copies of all correspondence related in any way to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In addition, ... all communications to or from Color of change, Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy, ProgressNow, People for the American Way, Citizen Engagement laboratory and Progressive change Campaign Committee. (120521031)

Public records request for “any communications between the Wisconsin Department of justice and the American Legislative Exchange Council since Jan 1, 2012,” as well as “any communications between Alan Dye, legal counsel for ALEC, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice since Jan 1, 2012. (130918031)

Public records request for “an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of any and all correspondence from representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and any responses from the Wisconsin Department of Justice to ALEC regarding the applicability of open records laws to ALEC documents.” (130918002)

Let me know your thoughts after you have had an opportunity to review this information.

Thanks.

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

Just following up to see how you would like to proceed with regard to your request. Please let me know when you have made a decision.

Thanks very much.

From: Alex Richardson

Hi Mr. Potter,

Sorry about that, I've been busy moving for the last few days. You mentioned that it would be relatively easy to pull these emails. Would you then have to charge me for them, or could you just send them over? 1,100 docs would probably rack up a charge that's way out of my range if you have to charge me, but if it's just something you can send over, I'd be interested to see them when I get around to it.

Best,
Alex Richardson

From: Potter, Kevin

Mr. Richardson,

I think maybe you misunderstood my prior email. When I said it would be relatively easy to pull the prior emails, I was referring to the prior public records requests (the ones I listed in my June 5, 2015 email) we had received regarding ALEC and the documents we provided in response to those requests – not the entire 1,100 emails, most of which consist of our internal emails discussing the process we should use to search for responses to those records requests.

If you want the entire 1,100 emails, we can provide them. Our normal charges to copy records are $.15/page or if we are merely scanning documents, it is $.14/page, which subtracts the cost of the paper, but still covers the staff time involved in copying/scanning. In fairness to you, I should let you know that most of these 1,100 emails will consist of multiple pages. If you just want the records responsive to the prior records requests, it would significantly reduce the number of pages we would be providing and accordingly the cost – but that is your call.

Please let me know how you would like to proceed. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. My direct number is (608) 266-0929. Thanks.

From: Ferguson, Paul M.

Mr. Richardson,

I am following up Kevin Potter’s June 26, 2015 email to you regarding your public records request concerning ALEC. I would like to speak with you about the issues Mr. Potter raised in his email as it would help us provide you with the records you seek.

At your earliest convenience, please contact me at (608) 264-9464.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Thank you,

Paul M. Ferguson
Assistant Attorney General
Office of Open Government
Wisconsin Department of Justice
17 W. Main Street
Madison, WI 53707-7857
(608) 264-9464

From: Ferguson, Paul M.

Mr. Richardson,

I am following up my July 9, 2015 email to you regarding your public records request concerning ALEC. To date, neither Kevin Potter or I have received a response from you following our respective emails to you on June 26, 2015 and July 9, 2015. Copies of our emails follow in this email thread.

Please contact me regarding your public records request by Friday, July 17, 2015. You may reach me at (608) 264-9464 or by replying to this email. If I do not receive a response from you by that date, I will conclude that you no longer wish to receive the requested records, and we will close your file. If you wish to renew your request at a later date, you may do so.

Thank you,

Paul M. Ferguson
Assistant Attorney General
Office of Open Government
Wisconsin Department of Justice
17 W. Main Street
Madison, WI 53707-7857
(608) 264-9464

Files