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Niemic's press release

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Documents related to the furor around a flood of conservative data requests made of DFL officials.

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									I’ve included my press release below, as well as two attachments, which are addressed at
the conclusion of the press release.

Regards,
Sean Niemic
The Minnesota Republic
Editor in Chief
c: 856-834-6274




  For Immediate Release                                                    Contact:
              Sean Niemic, 856-834-6274


   State Auditor Rebecca Otto Tries to Shut
                    Down
  Student Investigative Journalist’s Inquiries
 When Public Intimidation and Maligning Students and
           Their Journalists Does Not Work,
What Follows Are Demands for Money and Threats to Drag
                     Out Process
MINNEAPOLIS—July 15, 2010—Sean Niemic, editor of The Minnesota
Republic, a student publication at the University of Minnesota, today decried
attempts by State Auditor Rebecca Otto to shut down a journalistic
investigation through threats of charging high prices for public data and
through stonewalling and foot-dragging.

“As part of the investigative work at The Minnesota Republic, we have
submitted requests for public information to current elected officials seeking
reelection – these are known as Data Practices Requests,” explained Niemic.
“These requests are based on research and pertain to the operations of their
offices and their conduct in an official capacity.”

Every major news outlet, in all media, in the state of Minnesota files such
requests as part of their regular reporting.

“When State Auditor Rebecca Otto received the information requests from
The Minnesota Republic, she responded quickly and publically,” explained
Niemic. “In a press release from her campaign (not her official office, which
received the information requests) she attacked our publication’s and our
journalists’ motives; she accused us of trying to waste taxpayer money.”
“With our requests so far not fulfilled by Otto, it is unclear why our particular
requests cause her such consternation and elicited such attacks and
attempts at intimidation,” said Niemic. “The Minnesota Republic has found
no record of Otto’s campaign or the Office of the State Auditor publically
commenting on, not to mention attacking, any other news outlet for filing
information requests.”

“The Minnesota Republic has refused to withdraw the requests after this
public attack,” said Niemic. “It appears that if the requests are not
withdrawn, Otto will be demanding an undisclosed amount of money and will
wait as long as possible to release the requested information. The State
Auditor is required to fulfill information requests in a timely manner – this
includes providing information on an ongoing basis, as it is uncovered, if the
collection period is less than brief.”

“Because the Minnesota Republic is a student-run and partially University-
funded publication, Otto knows that any unnecessary outlay of funds are not
part of our normal budget and will harm our mission as student journalists,”
said Niemic. “Otto’s office did not indicate what payments would be
requested or for what, but rather offered a vague promise that if the
requests are not withdrawn, undisclosed amounts of money will be
demanded. This is a clear act of intimidation.”

Niemic said, “The entire purpose of the Office of the State Auditor is to
provide transparency and to hold accountable local elected officials and
others entrusted with the public good. Journalists play a key role in holding
constitutional officers accountable. Why doesn’t Otto want to be open and
transparent?”

Niemic continued, “Let me be clear: We will not be intimidated. We will
pursue our information requests.”

Attachments:
1. A copy of the letter demanding money and promising delay from official
Office of the State Auditor.
2. The Minnesota Republic response.

The Minnesota Republic is a student journalism project founded by and run
by students at the University of Minnesota.

                                      ###

								
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