FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
DEED and Commissioner Grove Fail to Provide Answers to Data Requests
Minneapolis, MN – This week, the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) announced a lawsuit in Minnesota District Court against the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Commissioner Steve Grove that alleges Commissioner Grove, acting in his official capacity but using his personal Twitter account, blocked his constituents and then refused to provide his “block list” in response to journalist Tony Webster’s data request.
Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, Commissioner Grove communicated essential information to Minnesotans through Twitter. Among other things, Commissioner Grove announced agency updates on unemployment, grantmaking, and hiring decisions and solicited feedback from Minnesotans which he promised to use in agency decision-making. In this case, Mr. Webster, the plaintiff, is a journalist and researcher who observed an increasing number of Minnesota community members claiming the Commissioner had blocked them from viewing his Twitter. Mr. Webster submitted requests under the MGDPA seeking a list of all accounts blocked by Twitter accounts operated by DEED and Commissioner Grove. DEED failed and refused to provide Mr. Grove’s block list, which violated the MGDPA’s promptness requirement and requirement to produce public government data.
This lawsuit is an action to compel compliance and action for damages under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, codified in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 (the “MGDPA”), and the Minnesota Official Records Act, Minn. Stat. § 15.17 (“MORA”) which is enforceable through the MGDPA. The lawsuit seeks a court order compelling the Defendants’ compliance, damages, an injunction, declaratory judgment, fees, costs, and a civil penalty.