“a law firm, which had previously been retained by IU in other matters, made a public records request for Sanders’s emails relating to IU’s presidential search”
This professor was looking into a large and questionable expenditure associated with the search and then this happened. Crazy.
From the FIRE blog:
Did Indiana University FOIA its own professor? [UPDATE: Yup.]
What happens when a public records request isn’t from a member of the public, but from within a university’s own administration? In other words, what if the FOIA is coming from inside the house? It’s unusual, but not unprecedented — and events at Indiana University, including a recent and unusual change in policy, suggest it may have happened again.
UPDATE (Dec. 22, 2021): In fact, it did. See the update at the conclusion of this post.
Steve Sanders is a tenured law professor at IU. He is also an IU alum and was long involved with the institution before joining the faculty. Because of his deep relationship with the university, Sanders has become particularly interested in its leadership and administration.
Earlier this year, Sanders started looking into IU’s search for a new president to replace the retiring Michael McRobbie. That process, like many presidential searches, was secretive, and Sanders wasn’t involved. He did, however, speak with friends and colleagues about the search, and after learning about a large payment to the outgoing president for “consulting services” — which was approved without a vote by the board — Sanders wrote an article about the results of his investigation.
Before he could publish the investigation, Sanders learned — as he would later write in a post in advance of his broader story — that a law firm, which had previously been retained by IU in other matters, made a public records request for Sanders’s emails relating to IU’s presidential search. Sanders hypothesized that the request was on behalf of IU itself, in an effort to find details of how Sanders learned the information he’d acquired for his article.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.