Posted by | March 30, 2011 11:45 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Yesterday I wrote about Republican attempts to attack Professor William Cronon by getting a hold of his emails after he wrote an op-ed critical of Governor Scott Walker.  Well it seems that this idea of getting academic emails is not isolated to Wisconsin.  In Michigan, the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy has filed a FOIA request with three in-state universities.

A free enterprise think tank in Michigan — backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles — has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.

According to professors subject to the request, filed under Michigan’s version of the Freedom Of Information Act, the request is extremely rare in academic circles. An employee at the think tank requesting the emails tells TPM they’re part of an investigation into what labor studies professors at state schools in Michigan are saying about the situation in Madison, Wisc., the epicenter of the clashes between unions and Republican-run state governments across the Midwest.

Unlike Cronon, the subjects of these requests haven’t yet been voices in the battles against unions raging throughout the Midwest.  So in a sense, this request is even more disturbing.  The message sent to academics is “even if you might consider going after us, be ready to engage in a protracted legal and public relations battle about any email you may have sent to a friend on these subjects.”

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.