On January 21, 2010 I sent an open records request to state Representative Leah Vukmir's office. I sent the request via email to both Rep. Vukmir and her chief of staff Dean Cady. Here are the basic records that I asked to examine from Vukmir's office:
- Email on Vukmir, Cady and another staffer's state email accounts that met a list of search words and names and fell within a specific time frame.
- Calendar entries for people that work for or represent various special interest organizations.
- An accounting for Rep. Vukmir's use of paid leave.
- Any electronic running news clips that her office may keep.
I've done my fair share of open records requests and usually the official's office responds fairly quickly simply acknowledging the fact that you have sent them the request. That did not happen in this instance; in fact I grew so concerned after not hearing from their office that I decided to send my request again via certified USPS mail on February 5, 2010 (over two weeks after sending my original request).
Since I had not heard one single peep from Rep. Vukmir's office about my request, even after sending a certified copy, I increasingly grew concerned. That was until yesterday when I saw a blog by Brian Fraley, a Republican operative now working for the MacIver Institute. In it he complained about my request and selectively posted portions of my open records request on their blog. I saw that blog posting at about 2:09 pm on Friday and it was the first indication that I had that Vukmir's office even had received my original open records request. I immediately commented on MacIver's blog asking how they rate, communicating with Vukmir about my request before they have even responded to the person that was actually making the request. That comment was pending for moderation for some time on their blog. About 45 minutes after leaving that comment I finally got an email from Vukmir's Chief of Staff saying some of the following:
- The information from my requests was ready and waiting to be examined at the clerk's office.
- That he keeps no calendar and the office keeps no news clips, so there were no records for those items.
- That Leah Vukmir redacted information from some of the emails (they say it is personal info, which I have no problem with as long as their descriptions are accurate).
- That I could get her paid leave info directly from the clerk.
Given the fact that I had no idea what was going on with my request, I was naturally very pleased to finally get a response from Vukmir's office. I only wish that they would have contacted me, the requestor, in at least some manner before sending my request to their supporters at MacIver. I don't think that a citizen should have to learn the status of their open records request through a third party's website. But maybe this is a new policy for Republicans in the legislature, or at least Vukmir's office. Maybe all future requests of Republican legislators should be handled directly through MacIver next time.