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

A lawsuit was filed against the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Tuesday. The law suit states the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is violating 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 has requested public records for over a year from the state agency and has been redirected or ignored. They sent the records request to learn how the MEDC calculated the return on investment for the taxpayer-funded Pure Michigan advertising campaign. The Center says that MEDC claimed that the campaign generated $8.79 in state revenue for every $1 spent in 2020, but refused 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 did their own analysis of the Pure Michigan campaign using public data, they found the tourism promotion had no meaningful impact on state tax revenues.

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

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

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

To learn more about the case, click here.