A conservative think tank, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy based in Michigan, has filed a FOIA request demanding all emails from “three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations” regarding the union fight in Wisconsin, Scott Walker and Rachel Maddow, Talking Points Memo is reporting.
The labor studies departments being targeted are at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University, and according to TPM, “The requests specifically seek emails from all labor studies faculty at each school.”
The Mackinac Center is funded by the big-wigs in the Republican Party, including the Koch brothers, the Walton family and Michigan’s wealthiest families, including the Prince family behind the infamous Blackwater government contractors. It is also a major force behind many of the policies that Republican lawmakers have proposed:
“The Mackinac Center has long pushed for several of the controversial proposals put forward by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), including one which would allow state government to step in when local municipalities face financial crises and declare, as one supportive legislator put it, “financial martial law,” including abrogating union contracts.”
The request demands copies of emails that mention: Scott Walker, Wisconsin, Madison, Maddow, and any emails dealing with collective bargaining and covers all emails from January 1-March 25, 2011. The request can be viewed here:
The Mackinac Center has said they will not disclose why they made the request, with one of their spokesmen saying, “I’m not going to release what we’re writing about.”
Marick Masters, director of labor studies at Wayne State told TPM he’d never seen anything like this:
“I’ve been an educator since early 1980s and I’ve never had a FOIA request,” he said. Masters declined to speculate on the nature of the request, saying only that “everyone is entitled to file a FOIA request” and that he’s forwarded the request to the university’s general counsel, who’ll decide if and how to comply with it.
So, the power-grab and guerrilla tactics to intimidate dissenters continues. But they may have picked a fight with the wrong person. I’ll be interested to see how Rachel covers this.