When you send thousands of FOIA requests, you are bound to get some very weird responses from time to time. Recently, we here at MuckRock had one of our most bizarre gets yet - Washington State Fusion Center’s accidental release of records on the effects of remote mind control.
As someone who has been threatened with jail, lawsuits, and the occasional death threat over requests I’ve filed or helped file, I understand how frustrating public records can be. But with Sunshine Week 2018 wrapped up, I think it’s worth taking note of everything that’s gone well.
After a court ruled state legislators and senators were subject to Washington’s Public Records Act, elected officials there quickly moved, with no public hearings, to make sure that emails and many other would continued to be kept from public. After an unprecedented backlash, Gov. Jay Inslee has vetoed the bill and the legislature has agreed to get more public feedback before any changes are made.
How FOIA lets personalities shine, Fast and Furious the #opendata way, and a creative new “exemption” in Washington
FOIA doesn’t have to be dry, particularly if you get creative with your requests and how you put the data to work. This week, some great examples of using government data from the New York Times and CityLab, plus a report on a questionable new way to skirt the law via the Tri-City Herald.
Public records can help dig into policy makers at all levels, as well as help find out the truth on the ground. This week’s FOIA roundup shows how you can use requests to do the same no matter what subject you’re interested in.