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State reaches settlement agreement in Progress Michigan FOIA lawsuit

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 17:24:11-05

The Michigan Department of Attorney General has reached a settlement agreement with Progress Michigan on a lawsuit involving a Freedom of Information Act request received by the department under the previous administration.

The settlement includes partial payment of attorneys’ fees to Progress Michigan, a news release said Wednesday.

Progress Michigan was denied a FOIA request in 2016 seeking emails from 21 department employees that were “sent or received using a personal email account in the performance of official functions.”

Those emails are missing from the department’s records.

Before the lawsuit, the State of Michigan did not have a policy prohibiting the use of private emails for official business.

The state now has a policy requiring all state business to be conducted by state email.

“The Freedom of Information Act protects the people’s right to inspect and receive public records, including concerning official business that may have been sent or received on personal email accounts,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “I appreciate Progress Michigan bringing attention to this important issue, and, as a result of its lawsuit, the state revised its FOIA procedures to reflect best practices. The state serves the people of Michigan, and they deserve to know what we are doing and how we are doing it.”