Skip to main content

Anonymous Public Records Requests for Harassment

I've written a lot about public records requests, which ultimately are a good thing and ensure transparency in public servants.  However, I do believe that the current rules far overstep their original spirit, and the process is massively abused at massive taxpayer expense-- with the intention of harassing and harming public employees.  

When you have access to all of someone's email, you can cherry pick the message you'd like to tell.  The internet loves sensationalism and scandal, and is not so excited about the boring realities. 

The Latest Batches

Over the last month my institution has produced about 50 MB of my email and other docs as PDFs.  It is a substantial number of pages, most of it going to author and documentarian Jeffrey Smith.

But there have been anonymous requests as well.  Yes, you do not even need to say who you are or what you seek to peek voyeuristically into the private conversations of academic professors that just want teach and do research.  Transparency is a one-way street. 

This week some docs went out to someone "seeking any documents related to any harassment cases involving Dr. Kevin Folta at the University of Florida, including complaints and investigative materials." 




More requests for public records. The latest come from anonymous inquiries, which I have a hunch are folks in the SciComm community.

They'll get two documents about harassment. However, I was the one being harassed, in one case by someone that stated "that he wanted to kill Kevin Folta."  This ended up as a police report by the university that I didn't even see until yesterday. 

Who is the Anonymous Requester?

It is no secret that some in the science communication community have been quick to side with and propagate false information and allegations from folks like GM Watch.  They've distributed materials in the interest of harming me personally and professionally. 

But these same folks never ask me for thoughts or clarifications.  They have their story and stick to it.  

It is very disappointing.  They don't talk to me, they just distribute negative information from activist websites, turn me in at conferences for violating the Code of Conduct (which the conference found baseless), and now make anonymous requests because they are afraid to be exposed as the gutless backstabbers they truly are. 

The Big Irony

The good news is that it is easy to figure out who they are, and chances are they reveal themselves very soon in their scathing misinterpretation of materials gathered.  I welcome that. 

It is amazing that in the process of transparency these folks wish to remain hidden.  It says a lot about their motivations and character, as they take on the same damaging tactics as the most deplorable activist groups. 

My recommendation is that they carefully fact check before misinterpreting emails and cryptic internal documents.  It will be career suicide if they don't.  This will be interesting to watch. 





Popular posts from this blog

Scientific American Destroys Public Trust in Science

This is a sad epitaph, parting words to an old friend that is now gone, leaving in a puff of bitter betrayal. 
When I was a kid it was common for my mom to buy me a magazine if I was sick and home from school.  I didn't want MAD Magazine or comic books.  I preferred Scientific American
The once stalwart publication held a unique spot at the science-public interface, bringing us interesting and diverse stories of scientific interest, long before the internet made such content instantly accessible.  It was our trusted pipeline to the new edges of scientific discovery, from the mantle of the earth to the reaches of space, and every critter in between.
But like so much of our trusted traditional science media, Scientific American has traded its credibility for the glitz of post-truth non-scientific beliefs and the profits of clickbait.The problem is that when a trusted source publishes false information (or worse, when it hijacked by activists) it destroys trust in science, trust in s…

Chipotle's Ag-vertising to Fix their Anti-Ag Image

After years of anti-farmer rhetoric, disgusting anti-agriculture videos, and trashing farmer seed choice, Chipotle now seems to have found a love for the American farmer that is as warm and inviting as the gooey core of a steak burrito.  Their new "Cultivate the Future of Farming" campaign raises awareness of the hardship being experienced in agriculture, and then offers their thoughts and some seed grants in order to reverse it. 

But are they solving a problem that they were instrumental in creating? 

The crisis in agriculture is real, with farmers suffering from low prices, astronomical costs, and strangling regulation.  Farmer suicides are a barometer of the crisis.  Farms, from commodity crops to dairies, are going out of business daily. It is good to see a company raising awareness. 


From Chipotle's website- The "challenge is real" and "It's a hard living"-- and companies like Chipotle were central in creating those problems. 

However, Chipotle&#…

Mangling Reality and Targeting Scientists

Welcome to 2019, and one thing that remains constant is that scientists engaging the public will continue to be targeted for harassment and attempted reputation harm.  

The good news is that it is not working as well as it used to.  People are disgusted by their tactics, and only a handful of true-believers acknowledge their sites as credible. 

But for those on the fence I thought it might be nice to post how a website like SourceWatch uses a Wikipedia-mimic interface to spread false and/or misleading information about public scientists. 

Don't get me wrong, this is not crying victim.  I'm actually is screaming empowerment.  I spent the time to correct the record, something anyone can check.  Please look into their allegations and mine, and see who has it right. 

This is published by the Center for Media and Democracy.  Sadly, such pages actually threaten democracy by providing a forum for false information that makes evidence-based decisions in policy issues more challenging.  It…