NFOIC, Knight FOI Fund support efforts to release COVID data, county credit card details

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in October 2021 awarded two grants from the Knight FOI Fund in support of litigation to release public records. 

In Florida

The Florida Center for Government Accountability, the NFOIC’s newest member, was awarded a $5,000 grant to support its lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health, which has stopped posting COVID-19 data to its website and has denied the FLCGA’s request for data. 

The FLCGA and a state representative filed suit after the Department of Health cited an exemption to Florida’s Sunshine Law and argued that because it is releasing data to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not obligated to comply with public record requests. 

The suit has garnered state, national and international media attention.

Update, Dec. 2, 2021: Judge sides with FLCGA to grant deposition of state health official in COVID-19 records lawsuit.

In Colorado

The Delta County Citizen Report, a nonprofit news organization, was awarded a $4,600 grant to support its lawsuit against the county commissioners and county administrator. 

The Delta County Citizen Report alleges it was denied records relating to the county administrator’s county-issued credit card statements. The county initially denied the existence of the county-issued credit card, but testimony during an ethics commission hearing suggested the credit card does indeed exist, according to the Citizen Report. 

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, an NFOIC member, wrote in support of the Delta County Citizen Report’s efforts.

The Knight FOI Fund

Through its Knight FOI Fund, the NFOIC since 2010 has awarded about 90 grants in support of open government cases, with more than 80 percent of cases resulting in orders or settlements that advance transparency.