UCLA gets SUED over mysterious Mnuchin talk

The University of California, Los Angeles got sued on Wednesday for failing to fulfill a public record request filed over a year ago.

The free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed a lawsuit against the school. FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon claimed that it had “shirked its responsibility under California law," in a press release on Thursday. 

FIRE requested all video and communications records following an on-campus event with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin spoke at UCLA on Feb. 26, 2018, participating in an interview with radio host Kai Ryssdal pertaining to economic development, but withdrew permission to post the video of the event after it was protested, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Police made five arrests after the protest, according to FIRE. None of the individuals were students, Inside Higher Ed reported.

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UCLA published the video on its website on March 9, 2018, but the school has continuously given itself extensions on providing the communications records, according to a FIRE press release obtained by Campus Reform. The school most recently gave itself a deadline of April 30, or 424 days since FIRE’s initial request.

“UCLA has shirked its responsibility under California law to disclose public information and is withholding administrative records about one of the largest public colleges in the state and a high-ranking member of the federal government,” FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon said in the news release. “A university whose motto is ‘let there be light’ shouldn’t keep the public in the dark.”

FIRE was not the only one to make a public records request of UCLA. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Los Angeles chapter also put in a request to UCLA and was denied access.

During the lecture, several protesters were escorted from Korn Convocation Hall, leading to five arrests, but none were UCLA students.

FIRE argues that UCLA is in violation of the California Public Records Act, which mandates that public institutions make public records copies “promptly available.”

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“UCLA can’t be allowed to defeat public records law by unilaterally putting off its response deadline forever,” Adam Steinbaugh, FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program director, said. “This is a serious abuse of the public trust. UCLA — and public colleges across the country — must recognize that following the law isn’t a choice.”

“UCLA is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing the allegations,” UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez told Campus Reform. “The university does not comment on pending litigation.”

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