Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Friday, March 14, 2008

PA Paper Sues Over WVU MBA Records

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will sue West Virginia University for failing to comply with the state's open records law.

The newspaper alleges the university committed numerous violations in its response to requests for documents related to the school's decision last fall to retroactively award a master's of business administration degree to Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin.

"The university has engaged in a constant and consistent practice of delay, evasion and concealment" in violation of West Virginia's Freedom of Information Act, according to the newspaper's complaint...

In the complaint, the newspaper alleges that the university failed to respond in a timely manner to a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, withheld public records that are not privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure, and concealed information by intentionally misapplying exemptions under the law...

The Post-Gazette made three requests for documents. The first was submitted Dec. 21, the day the newspaper published a story questioning the way the university went about granting the M.B.A. degree to Ms. Bresch nearly a decade after she left the program. WVU records had showed that Ms. Bresch, a high school classmate and former business associate of Mr. Garrison, had completed only about half of the credits the graduate program required...

Mr. Garrison's e-mail, cell phone and landline records were among the documents that were improperly withheld, according to the complaint. Some of his records, which the university said it did not possess, were included in files of other university officials whose records were turned over to the newspaper.

The only record of usage for Mr. Garrison's cell phone that the university produced showed the total charge for the month, without any accompanying detail, the suit states.

The university produced no landline records for Mr. Garrison and records of his appointment books were substantially redacted, according to the suit.

In its FOIA request made Jan. 18, the newspaper asked for copies of all records relating to the subject of whether Ms. Bresch fulfilled the requirements for an M.B.A. and to the decision to grant the degree.

A large portion of what was produced by the university were reprints of news stories, including those of the Post-Gazette.

In addition, "Vast swaths of the documents produced are blacked out on the ground that the material ... is exempted from disclosure by the 'internal deliberations' exemption" of the open records law, the complaint says.

More here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh is in Pennsylvania, not West Virginia.