PA Dep't of State Willfully Disregards Right-to-Know Law

From: Stephanie Frank Singer <sfsinger_at_campaignscientific_dot_com>
Date: Fri Feb 03 2006 - 10:22:24 CST

For more information or supporting documents, please contact
Stephanie Frank Singer, 215-985-3392.

Although Pennsylvania counties as disparate as Cambria, Lehigh and
Philadelphia have recently lowered voter file prices in response to
an information campaign by Stephanie Frank Singer, the Department of
State is refusing to budge. Never mind that Section 7 of the Right-
to-Know Law (as amended in 2002) states clearly that public records
in electronic form should be provided on request for no more than the
cost of duplication (at prevailing business rates) and postage.
Never mind the legal precedents of an en banc decision of the
Commonwealth Court (Hessley v Campbell, 2000) and a decision in
Allegheny County (Tessitor v Allegheny, 2004). In a patently illegal
attempt to make money from voter file sales, the Department of State
recently set the price of the Pennsylvania state voter file at the
outrageous amount of $1350.00.

On Friday, February 3, 2006, Stephanie Frank Singer filed exceptions
with the Department of State Right-to-Know office after they denied
her request for the PA voter file at the legal price of $15.
Although the official written reason given for the denial was failure
to specify the records properly, State Department lawyer Larry Boyle
told Singer verbally that the Department of State would not lower the
price. Boyle also indicated that the Department of State felt
justified in denying the voter file to Singer on the basis of their
suspicion that Singer would use the file improperly -- a suspicion
that has no basis in fact or in law.

Particularly worrisome is Boyle's contention that, contrary to
previous practice, the Department of State might choose to interpret
the word "commercial use" to include public-interest activities
undertaken by for-profit entities. This argument would affect for-
profit newspapers, whose stories sometimes rely on information from
the voter files.

For more information, contact
Stephanie Frank Singer
sfsinger@campaignscientific.com
215-985-3392
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Received on Tue Feb 28 23:17:04 2006

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