Chad Nodland blogs at the North Decoder blog–which (think about it) focuses on North Dakota politics.
Chad is the winner of this week’s increasingly coveted Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week award.
Here’s the backstory.
In 2006, the State Auditor of North Dakota conducted an audit of the WSI that showed serious management difficulties. A county prosecutor looked at the audit and after additional investigation, elected to press criminal charges earlier this year against Sandy Blunt, the head of the agency. Blunt was charged with “felony misapplication of entrusted funds” and illegal use of confidential government information.
Mr. Blunt was suspended from his job, with full pay of approximately $14,000/month, as the criminal case against him proceeded. And yet, during this leave of absence, he apparently asked the WSI for many documents.
Hearing of this, our intrepid STOTW award winner decided to find out just what documents Mr. Blunt was asking for. This was accomplished by filing an open records request.
The WSI information gatekeeper responded to Nodland with the comment that his request was “voluminous”. If I understand the situation correctly, the voluminousness of the request was conditioned on the apparent voluminousness of the number of documents that suspended director Blunt was asking for, and getting, for free.
As a point of information, a North Dakota judge dismissed the misappropriation of government funds charge against Blunt this morning. The prosecutor in the case expects to appeal that dismissal to the state’s Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, our hero Chad Nodland has used his FOIA creativity to help illuminate the inner workings of an agency that appears to have way, way, way too little oversight. The fact that they haven’t given him the documents he wants–the documents they gave to Blunt–reinforces the impression that they need more, not less, access to their documents.
Chad Nodland, we salute you.