Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Sues Michigan Economic Development Corporation for FOIA Violation

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A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. The lawsuit states that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation violates the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by refusing to release documents related to its Pure Michigan tourism program.

According to the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, the Center requested public records for more than a year from the state agency and was either redirected or ignored. They sent the request for documents to learn how the MEDC calculated the return on investment for the taxpayer-funded Pure Michigan ad campaign. The Center says MEDC claimed the campaign generated $8.79 in revenue for the state for every dollar spent in 2020, but declined to disclose how they were able to generate that figure.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation says this figure differs from other research on the program and that when they conducted their own analysis of the Pure Michigan campaign using public data, they found that the promotion of tourism had no no significant impact on state tax revenue.

Michael LaFaive, senior director of tax policy at the Mackinac Center, sent a FOIA request to the agency on November 6, 2020. MEDC responded and partially granted the request in February 2021, the Center reports. The Center goes on to say that MEDC ignored the portion of the request asking for ROI calculations for the Pure Michigan campaign.

“It’s disheartening to see the Michigan Economic Development Corporation continue to ignore a relatively simple request,” LaFaive said. “Taxpayer money is being used to fund this program, and the public deserves to know that their money is being spent responsibly.”

The Center then went through months of back and forth with the agency before being asked to ask Tourism Economics, a contractor who worked on the tourism campaign. When they requested records from the contractor, they were refused.

To learn more about the case, Click here.

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