by Scott McClallen
The Michigan Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Committee’s (MICRC) legal team advised it to continue hiding documents from the public in the same letter it touted transparency.
The MICRC has also denied Freedom of Information Act requests for the memos, claiming attorney-client privilege protected the communications. Despite the Constitutional mandate stating, “The commission shall conduct all of its business at open meetings,” the MICRC held a closed-door session in October to discuss two legal memos. It’s still unclear what commissioners discussed behind closed doors.
The taxpayer funded MICRC legal team advised against transparency in the same letter they claimed they were supporting transparency.
“The MICRC has operated in a transparent and open fashion and will continue to do so,” the letter said. “It has held over 100 public meetings where live public participation was available and welcomed remotely or in-person.”
The attorneys said if the MICRC waives attorney-client privilege, they might not be able to reinstate it.
“Making confidential, privileged materials available now also is likely to result in a future claim that this release constitutes a waiver of the Commission’s attorney client privilege beyond the documents released,” the letter said.
In 2018, Michigan voters were fed up with in-power politicians drawing their own districts to protect incumbents. As a result, 61% of voters in the state approved a ballot proposal that established an independent citizen’s redistricting committee. But this group is also acting behind closed doors and hiding documents.
MICRC spokesman Edward Woods III told The Center Square in an email that they plan to decide whether to release the memos or not on Dec. 2.
“In an open and transparent manner, the Commission will discuss this letter at its meeting tomorrow,” Woods said.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Michigan Residents” by Redistricting Michigan.