Sending the Wrong Signals

There’s a simmering transparency crisis at the state Capitol, and the press is turning up the heat.

Late in January, the Detroit Free Press reported that high ranking members of the Michigan State Police were caught using a third party app on their state phones to automatically hide and delete public records related to personnel decisions on the force – and heaven-knows what else.

The software allows public employees to avoid Freedom of Information Act filings and record-retention requirements in state law.

In other words – they were (perhaps illegally) destroying public records.

Lawmakers are furious. They’ve asked high ranking state police officials to testify about their use of the app but they’re doing their best to avoid those questions.

The Whitmer administration and other high ranking state officials are even less interested in answers.

When asked by the Free Press if employees are allowed to install applications that automatically delete public records, they’ve ducked the question.

According to the Free Press:

“Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is charged with enforcing the state FOIA law, had no comment Monday, spokesman Ryan Jarvi said.

“A spokeswoman for Whitmer, who was initially a defendant in the MSP lawsuits (that exposed the deletion software), did not respond to a request for comment.”

We have a few more questions we’re sure the Governor doesn’t want to answer either.

Does anyone else in her administration use the app (or similar software) to automatically delete public records?

Do department heads? Senior staff?

Is the Governor personally aware of staff or appointees using the software? Does she?

And if so – what are they hiding?

Sincerely,

Tony Daunt
Tony Daunt
Executive Director
Michigan Freedom Fund

Detroit News: Editorial: Shame on public officials who cut vaccine line

"Hospitals and politicians serving their own interests not only erodes the public’s trust, but it means those who need protection most are getting passed over.It’s not just a bad look — it's risking the lives of the vulnerable."
"The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will allow high schools to resume contact sports Feb. 8, 'provided masks are worn during practices and competition.' This appears to be an about-face by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, given one of the rationales she has used to justify the lockdown, which was imposed on Nov. 18 and not scheduled to expire until Feb. 21."
"Michigan State Police is under fire for allegedly using encryption apps to hide internal communications from the public. The allegations are coming to light in an unrelated, wrongful termination lawsuit. Encryption software - anyone can get for free. A popular one is called Signal, it erases any trace of messaging between users.  At least seven top MSP officials, and likely more, have and use the app on their work-issued cell phones."

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