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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Freep Reporters Use FOIA to Snare Detroit Mayor's Questionable Expenses. More Coming

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick would rather his constituents not know about some things he's paid for with their tax dollars, according to Detroit Free Press reporters M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer. Things like:

The $850 steakhouse dinner.
The $836 charged to the city's credit card for his sister's stay in New Orleans.
The $3,837 he spent on chauffeured sedans over four days.
The $11,644 he dropped on Super Bowl hotel rooms.

The Mayor was so determined to keep those and many other questionable expenses out of the public eye that his aides withheld evidence of the suspect charges from a response to a Free Press Freedom of Information Act request. Little did those aides know the paper already had obtained from another source the records they witheld from the Mayor's FOIA response.

Now the Free Press is suing for complete copies of the mayor's credit card records. Who knows what else might be found when the Mayor is ordered to turn over all of his official credit card receipts and expense reports. And the Mayor's aides don't know what the Free Press might already know so they can't afford to hold anything else back.

Just goes to show yet again why FOIA laws are essential at every level of government, from the Mayor's office through the state and all the way up to the federal bureaucracy. Politicians and bureaucrats hate being forced out in the sunlight. FOIA laws make it possible for aggressive reporters and bloggers to shine the light in dark places.

Go here to read the whole Free Press report.

Also shows the Mitch Albom scandal is not the only thing happening in the Freep's newsroom these days.