Last week, a reader of this blog–who wishes to have his name withheld pending an outcome–wrote and asked a question.
Here’s the situation:
“Person A filed an open records request with a state agency in his state. The state agency responded that they would fulfill the request but that it would cost about $650. The great majority of this fee was the fee to review and redact the requested documents. Shortly thereafter, Person A learned that Person B had requested the exact same documents about a week before he did. Person B was given the same fee–about $650 for review and redaction. Person B had in fact already paid the fee, and the review and redaction of the requested documents had occurred by the time that Person A requested them.”
I asked some other FOIAers about this yesterday in an email and the unanimous response was that this is clearly a case of double-billing.
On a practical level, what would you do if this happened to you?
Treatment like this is what causes some people to conclude that their open records requests are not being handled in good faith.
That does not encourage a warm and friendly feeling toward the agency they are dealing with.