Government Transparency Group Won’t Say How Much Money it Wins From Open Records Lawsuits

A group that claims to be a champion of transparency has been filing a slew of lawsuits against Florida's government agencies, ostensibly to force the agencies to comply with public records laws. But just how much money has the group won? They're not willing to say.

Over the past few weeks, the Citizens Awareness Foundation, Inc. has faced accusations that the real reason it's filing so many lawsuits is to win cash settlements, not to serve the public interest. When New Times asked CAFI to show us some of the records they sought and how much they settled for, the open records group denied our repeated requests.

CAFI's former president Joel Chandler says he quit the six-figure gig after figuring out that is was a racket. (CAFI says he was fired for misusing funds.) He says the way it works is this: A public records request is sent to a government agency. If that group doesn't respond in a timely manner, ignores it, or illegally denies it, CAFI files a lawsuit. And quite often, it's cheaper for a government agency to settle than to fight it out in court, so CAFI gets paid. Continue>>>