AG rejects Seattle man’s request for 600 million emails

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Friday, February 13, 2015 12:43pm
  • Local News

Tim Clemans of Seattle won’t be getting any of the estimated 600 million emails of state employees he sought – so he’s decided to ask for more.

On Thursday, the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson notified Clemans that the request he sent to dozens of state agencies Feb. 5 didn’t comport with the Public Records Act because it did not seek any identifiable records as the state law requires.

“Rather, your email demands that every email ever sent to or from these agencies – our initial estimate is some 600 million emails – be reviewed to determine whether redaction is required,” reads the rejection letter.

In its letter, the AG’s office noted that the “identifiable record” criterion is not a high bar to meet but it “must have some meaning if the PRA is to operate for the benefit of all requesters and serve the purposes of the initiative passed by the people.”

Clemans responded Friday with a new public records request covering reports and documents as well as emails.

“The primary issue of my last state agencies email request was that it is hard to find emails not requiring redaction and therefore unidentifiable,” he wrote in his request. “Therefore I’m asking for all emails. And because the AG is jerking me around…I want as many records as I can get my hands on.”

The approach of the AG’s office follows a similar action by the University of Washington last month when it rejected a request from Clemans who asked for all records at the university from that date back to “the formation of the Earth 4.54 billion years ago.”

In its response to Clemans, the UW Office of Public Records concluded: “Your request does not qualify as a proper public records request. It does not request specific identifiable records, but rather requests every record ever ‘generated or edited’ by the University (presumably).”

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