Last year, Seattle-based activist Phil Mocek requested text messages sent by mayor Ed Murray to his staff. Unsurprisingly, the mayor’s press team responded fairly quickly - albeit in a fairly surprisingly way.
Curious how much college Republicans were shelling out to have Milo Yiannopoulos come to their campus, Matthew Guariglia requested records related to his speaking tour. What he found led to a larger understanding of the few super-rich individuals funding a conservative movement.
After Seattle residents noticed cameras popping up on utility polls over town, local activist Phil Mocek filed a request to find out who was putting them up, and why. What he got back was surprising - despite tough local laws, agencies like the ATF were setting up the spy cams for minor crimes, such as catching restaurants dumping grease.
It’s been months since we learned of the seemingly compulsory non-disclosure agreement that the FBI hands police eager to use cell phone tracking equipment. But we still know precious little about which departments aren’t allowed to tell us what about their StingRays.
With nearly 300 requests under his belt, Phil Mocek is one of MuckRock’s most prolific users. Here, he shares how he’s used public access to show governmental duplicity, gives his advice for first-time requesters, and talks about some of his favorite requests - and what he would have done differently.