How Not to Submit a GRAMA Request
If you’re looking for a somewhat entertaining read, look no further than the response to the Utah Democratic Party’s request for redistricting information. The Office of Legislative Research and General Council (OLRGC) responded to what can only be described as a fishing expedition of a request, a massive trolling net designed to scrape up all kinds of irrelevant flotsam in the hope of finding one small thing of value.
And how broad is it? It demands every single record related to House, Senate, and Congressional redistricting to or from any legislator or their staff. As I’ve mentioned before, the House and Senate maps both passed their respective houses almost unanimously, so what good does it to to request all of the records relating to these maps? It’s almost designed explicitly to be rejected as a freebie, and it hints that there’s really no evidence to support a lawsuit. Anyone who has actually worked with GRAMA knows that the most successful requests are specific and targeted, not overly broad.
More hilarious are the ground upon which the Party is requesting a fee waiver. The law provides that fees can be waived if the primary beneficiary of the release is the general public. In the request, however, the Party says rather bluntly that they intend to use the records in a potential lawsuit. They still insist, however, that the public is the primary beneficiary. Uh, what? Last I checked, the OLRGC is not designed to be a legal research team subsidized by the taxpayers, and if your intent of the request is to start suing people, it’s insulting to try and pretend that your primary objective is to look out for the public good.
Another portion of the law provides that a fee can be waived if it is related to the individual filing the request. Stunningly, the Party tried to insist that it is an individual under the law (ironic since most of them oppose Citizens United), a claim that OLGRC saw right through. They also dismissed the claim that because the fee “may” be waived that they are required to.
I find myself wondering if the legal eagles planning their lawsuit are rank amateurs or if they just want to see what sticks. I’ve said before that the legal threats are both poor strategy and a waste of time and money. This latest sloppy move only confirms it.