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Your essential weekly guide to the latest on FOIA, transparency and accountability battles, threats and wins. Powered by the reporters at MuckRock.

Documents and texts show how Mississippi welfare program funneled money to political insiders and Brett Favre's pet project 

An ongoing investigation by Mississippi Today's Anna Wolfe has painstakingly collected public records from various sources to detail how state welfare funds were diverted to political insiders, celebrities and a new volleyball stadium after lobbying by former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. While officials downplayed the way funds were used or denied knowledge, the public records flatly contradicted the official narrative.

The latest reporting is based on text messages that directly tie former governor Phil Bryant to the scandal and show Favre knew of the source of the funding. These text messages, however, did not come as the result of public records requests but through discovery in court as the state seeks to recoup losses.

Wolfe has pointed out that Mississippi's weak public records laws helped shield this kind of information from release, including by not forcing Bryant to hand over his communications for preservations when he left office. He now claims that the documents are shielded even from litigation by executive privilege.

Even Favre seemed to be worried about the potential power of public scrutiny, concerns that were waved off.

Read the latest reporting at Mississippi Today, the entire Backchannel investigative series or explore hundreds of text messages, emails and other evidence that Wolfe has posted on DocumentCloud.

Text message images via Mississippi Today and based on public records. 

Read the full story
The update 

FOIA webinar from the Cato Institute: Next week, libertarian think tank the Cato Institute is hosting an online panel about FOIA and government transparency. Featuring panelists from the National Security Archive, American Immigration Council, and others, the event will ask whether FOIA is working better now following updates to the law in 2016.

Getting ready for the National FOIA summit: This year's annual meeting of the National Freedom of Information Coalition will be held virtually, from October 18-20. The schedule includes sessions on open government lawsuits, college athletes, law enforcement records, doxxing and more, along with plenty of time for networking. Learn more and register here.

FOIA finds  & top docs 

For The Record was written by Betsy Ladyzhets and edited by André Natta.

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