Poverty Institute Hides from Transparency

The Poverty Institute announced yesterday that it will be legally separating from the Rhode Island College Foundation, although the institute will continue to rent space from the college and collaborate with faculty and students on social welfare issues. ‘Well then, what is the point?’ you might wonder.

We can think of at least one benefit for The Poverty Institute. OSPRI has long sought any e-mails that were sent out on taxpayer-funded computers and check registers for the last three years from the institute.  Because it is part of the state university system, we’ve filed Freedom of Information Act requests in order to obtain these documents. As a private organization, however, The Poverty Institute won’t be subject to those same transparency rules. Which is fine – but when they used public funds to do their business, we think the information should be public. And we will continue to work towards that goal.

Ironically, the institute’s homepage has a link to an issue brief that takes the Rhode Island Department of Revenue to task for not disclosing information on six tax credits given to corporations.

PS> we also filed a FOIA request for the college’s check register – they are insisting that we give them over $66,000 to produce the records. Yes, you read that right – $66,000.

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