The "commerical use" prohibition in the Public Records Act is narrowly defined and applies ONLY to "lists of individuals."
I am astounded at the position your office takes with regard to public records access.
What the heck happened to open access per the Public Records Act (PRA) and more pointedly, how in the world did your staff get so far off track here?
Please take a look at the March 14th press release issued by your office (and THANK YOU for removing that inflammatory “Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Violations” headline I called BULLSHIT on in my June 19th post).
UPDATE: the inflammatory headline mentioned above was added back to the press release (even though the Office of the Attorney General knows it to be completely untrue). Apparently, it’s a bigger problem politically to admitt your mistake than it is to do the right thing and remove a dishonest headline such as this. Why am I not surprised?
Please note the following activity my former partner is now banned from taking part in. . .
Using the Public Records Act to obtain a list of people likely to enter tax foreclosure proceedings or currently in tax foreclosure proceedings in order to solicit them.— David M. Huey, presumably
It is intentionally worded deceptively (more in a moment), and, as I believe, a rather absurd position for your office to take in light of the fact that county tax foreclosure sales are very much public auctions.
Why would your office feel compelled to restrict access to information regarding a public auction?
Because your staff is so determined to justify the $300k it’s wasted on this bogus “foreclosure rescue scam” investigation that it has completely lost touch with reality.
And what results?
Suggesting access to government foreclosure lawsuits be restricted or forbidden is illogical, unsupported by the applicable statutes and certainly, runs in direct opposition to the spirit of the PRA, as your office well knows.
learning about the law
I’ve read the statutes, Rob.
In fact, one of my favorite activities is learning about the law and things like the PRA. Since my business bumps up against it frequently, it’s important I have a handle on it.
It’s been on my bookshelf ever since and I refer to it often.
I taught a real estate investment course to my students recently and used this very deskbook as a main source of reference material for the “accessing Public Records” part of the class.
Has anyone from your office bothered to read it?
If so, I wonder if AAG David Huey noticed your words in the Preface . . .
As Attorney General, one of my top priorities is to strengthen the people’s control over government by ensuring and protecting their right to access public records. Our public records laws exist to promote democracy and open government for all citizens.— Attorney General Robert M. McKenna
And yet your office has now banned my former partner from accessing these very public records?
How can this be?
More to the point, as you well know, your office recently amended its lawsuit against me and included a provocative claim related to my public records requests . . .
Defendant locates victims . . . by, among other means, unlawfully obtaining lists of tax delinquent properties. Defendant obtains lists by filing Public Disclosure Requests pursuant to RCW 42.56.01, et seq. This statute prohibits agencies from providing lists to people for commercial purposes. RCW 42.56.070(9).— Amended Complaint, dated June 21, 2007
“Unlawfully obtaining lists?”
I call BULLSHIT.
“This statute prohibits agencies from providing lists to people for commercial purposes?”
I so call BULLSHIT.
I am not an attorney, Rob, but I can read. RCW 42.56.070(9), as to the applicable part, states as follows:
This chapter shall not be construed as giving authority to any agency . . . to give, sell or provide access to lists of individuals requested for commercial purposes, (italics added) . . .
See the problem?
The “commerical use” prohibition in the Public Records Act is narrowly defined and applies ONLY to “lists of individuals.”
Requesting a list of properties in the tax sale, or a list of parcels with delinquent taxes, or anything other than “lists of individuals” is perfectly fine, even if my intent is to use that information for a commercial purpose.
” . . . In addition, this provision does not prohibit disclosure of lists of businesses, corporations, or partnerships; the statute only prohibits disclosure of lists of natural persons.” (italics added).
Clearly, there can be no doubt there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with me requesting a list of properties in the tax foreclosure sale.
Nothing even kinda, sorta, maybe wrong. And requesting title reports from county treasurers, as mentioned in the suit?
Hardly a list of individuals, Rob.
It’s not a close call, and yet your office at this very moment is suing me for making this exact request, even though it knows or should know there is nothing wrong in me having done so.
And good grief, I’m not the attorney here, I’m just a guy who rescues people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
twisting the law
AAG David Huey, who is an attorney, knows what the statute says and doesn’t say. That’s why he included language in the above-mentioned press release regarding obtaining a “list of people likely to enter . . .”
He knows it’s deceptive because he knows we never requested such a list (and if we did, it was inadvertant, we’re sorry, and we promise we won’t do it again).
Come on, Rob, who gets banned from doing something they’ve never done?
And who get’s sued for it?
a mountain of research
What we do is research intensive. You saw the mountain of research work we provided your office in discovery.
As such, we request lists of parcels or copies of title reports and whatever else we need to adequately research properties in upcoming tax foreclosures.
The Public Records Act gives us this right. Your office is the number one proponent of that act.
I’ve read the amended complaint and am not impressed. Has it really come down to me accessing public records, now?
Good grief, Rob, doesn’t your office have better things to do?
And speaking of your office . . . when it knowingly makes false claims against me by willfully twisting the Public Records Act “commercial use” prohibition and intentionally misapplying it to make me appear dishonest, it has stepped over the line.
That IS deceptive.
And when this conduct comes from the very law firm that played THE key role in the creation of that act and should (and you’d better believe, does) know better?
I call BULLSHIT.
Rob, I am asking you yet again to fight fair.