Three Crowdfunding FOIA Requests That Need Your Help

Celebrate Sunshine Week and help promote transparency.

March 13-19 is Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative spotlighting the importance of open government and public records to a thriving democracy.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Public records ought to be just that—public. But too often, exorbitant processing fees create an obstacle for citizens seeking the public records that are rightfully theirs.

Average citizens and smaller news outlets often lack the financial resources and legal know-how to see a stubborn public records request through to its fulfillment. Boston-based public records request platform MuckRock allows users to crowdfund their fees for requests, with a success rate of roughly 65 percent.

Below are the three public records requests currently crowdfunding on MuckRock, and worth your consideration this Sunshine Week.

City Hall’s Emails with General Electic

$0 of $2,008.18 funded.

General Electric’s move from Connecticut to Boston has been heralded as a spectacular coup for the city, finally validating the Hub as place for innovation. But how exactly did Mayor Marty Walsh and company lure the multibillion-dollar company to Boston?

Andrew Quemere of the Bay State Examiner has requested all written and electronic communications between members of City Hall and GE from January 1, 2014 to the present, with hopes of gaining better insight into the courtship. When asked by Boston, a spokesperson for GE declined to comment on whether the company would release the emails out of interest of transparency, while a spokesperson for Walsh’s office said: “The city is currently working with more than one outlet to provide emails related to GE in response to public records requests.”

These emails have yet to be released. In the meantime, you can help fund Quemere’s request here.

MCA Records, Reagan’s Ties to the Mob

$194.50 of $494.50 funded.

MuckRock publishes FBI files on famous folks all the time, from Johnny Cash to Allen Ginsburg. Back in December, Michael Best filed a Freedom of Information Request with the FBI, requesting:

Subject files and investigations relating to MCA, Inc, also known as the Music Corporation of America, or its subsidiary MCA Records which became MCA Music Entertainment Group in 1989, as well as transcripts of any associated wire taps or other audio recordings.

MCA Records, which represented a young Ronald Reagan before he became president, had well-known ties to the Mafia. With his FOIA request, Best hopes to see if “Reagan’s Justice Department may have cut his old cronies a break.”

You can help fund Best’s request here.

Cases Against Boston Police Sgt. Henry Staines

$0 of $230.52 funded.

Last April, Boston Police launched an internal affairs investigation into Sgt. Henry Staines, who was caught on camera waiving a realistic toy gun in the face of the man filming him in Roxbury. Nine cases been brought against Staines between 1993 to 2014, none of which stuck, a police spokesperson told the Globe.

Emily Hopkins of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism sought to get her hands on those nine investigations, as well as a log of internal affairs investigations from 1990 to present. After 17 follow-up emails, Boston Police finally gave Hopkins an estimate in excess of $200 for more than 200 pages of information.

You can help fund Hopkins’ request here.