You can’t do that

They just never give up, do they? They need an enemy to define themselves:

A free enterprise think tank in Michigan — backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles — has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.

According to professors subject to the request, filed under Michigan’s version of the Freedom Of Information Act, the request is extremely rare in academic circles. An employee at the think tank requesting the emails tells TPM they’re part of an investigation into what labor studies professors at state schools in Michigan are saying about the situation in Madison, Wisc., the epicenter of the clashes between unions and Republican-run state governments across the Midwest.

One professor subject to the FOIA described it as anti-union advocates “going after folks they don’t agree with.”

The Mackinac Center For Public Policy, based in Midland, Mich., submitted the FOIA requests last Friday and Monday to the Labor Studies Center at the University of Michigan and the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues at Wayne State University. A third FOIA was directed to Michigan State University, which has a School of Human Resources & Labor Relations.

The requests specifically seek emails from all labor studies faculty at each school.

The Mackinac Center For Public Policy describes itself as a “nonpartisan research and educational institute” focused on providing free market “solutions to state and local policy questions” in Michigan. The center does not disclose its donors but according to recent reporting by Mother Jones, Mackinac “is part of a network of state-based groups associated with the Heritage Foundation.”

Past major donors to Mackinac Center, according to Mother Jones, have included the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation (the Wal-Mart Waltons), and foundations tied to two of Michigan’s best-known and wealthiest conservative political families: the DeVos family of Amway fame and the Prince family of Blackwater fame.

8 thoughts on “You can’t do that

  1. I have to say this is a bit naive. At the federal level, it’s called the Hatch Act. But states also impose restrictions on the activities of employees. Wisconsin has an unusual open records act, one that other states should emulate. Sure, it’s a nuisance to have right-wing think tanks nosing around in the e-mails of university professors, but the flip side is that citizens can nose around in what their government is doing.

    The real problem is the power of Republican Astroturf organizations (such as think tanks), which are fundamentally political action committees and should be treated as such, rather than the ability of people to find out how decisions by governmental employees are arrived at.

  2. Pretty obvious pattern here. Recall last year’s FOIA actions by Virginia’s (R) Attorney General, when a then professor at a Virginia university had some papers that supported finding of climate change concern.

    I am sure there is some puppet master behind the scenes pulling the strings, but the clear strategy is to intimidate, harass, any conceivable finding made at any public institution which is at odds with Republican ideology – climate change, the right of workers to seek union support – you name it.

    Fun stuff. Never doubt for a moment that someday Republicans will seek a Constitutional amendment to clarify that free speech is granted only to “Real Americans”.

  3. Tit for Tat. What’s the name of the organization, who works there, who funds them, what’s their address? Intimidate, harass? Back at ‘cha.

  4. Meanwhile, there’s a right-wing movement to privatize state universities — here in Ohio, Kasich wants to turn them into “charter universities.” One imagines that just as teachers in grade school charters have no protections, so will university professors. Good-bye tenure and academic freedom.

  5. One would think that the Republicans have shown us all how to obfuscate, delay, develop random and excessive fees for compiling such information, and generally not comply.

  6. I read these posts and I keep asking myself: What is it they want? When exactly will they feel sated? When no one has a job and can’t support their families? When we all start dying? What is it?

  7. Never, Nancy, never. They are the enemies of the human race, and they won’t quit until they destroy us or we destroy them.

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