Shumlin administration denies records requests

Shumlin administration denies records requests

EB-5 Visa, EB5 Visa, EB-5 Investment

Gov. Peter Shumlin's office says it will cost media outlets more than $20,000 to release all of the emails the governor's lawyer requested be deleted last month. In addition, the administration has denied a Burlington Free Press request for ethics questionnaires in which Shumlin's appointees disclosed potential conflicts of interest.

Administration officials released 5,500 pages of emails late last week. Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said those were a "representative sample." The governor's office provided those documents free of charge in the name of transparency, Coriell said, but to go through the tens of thousands of emails in former staff accounts would require hiring temporary help.

Shumlin's lawyer, Sarah London, requested the emails of former staff members be deleted after the Secretary of State's office updated the records retention schedule. The request was made around the same time as the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint accusing Jay Peak developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger of massive fraud. One former senior staffer, Alex MacLean, went on to work at Jay Peak after leaving Shumlin's office. Administration officials said any emails relating to the EB-5 program or Jay Peak have been placed under a litigation hold and were not part of the deletion request.

Coriell said the governor's office was willing to release the emails if media outlets are willing to pay, and encouraged the Burlington Free Press to make narrower requests. The Free Press requested correspondence and questionnaires completed by all employees earning more than $30,000 a year under the Executive Code of Ethics.

Some emails were released, but London's office said the questionnaires are exempt from records requests because they are personnel files.

"The employee signing the questionnaire does so with the understanding that it is a confidential document. In some cases, employees list sensitive personal or family circumstances when responding to questions on the form," Coriell wrote in an email to the Burlington Free Press.

He said there is a process in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest from affecting an employee's work.


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