Friday, February 28, 2020

SOS Restricts Public Records Access

Getting public records from the Secretary of State will first require going to the bank.  Forget using plastic, checks, or yes, even cash.  The Secretary of State will only accept  a money order, cashier's check, or corporate check for public records.  So much for it being the year 2020. 

Yours truly recently submitted a public records request to the Secretary of State.  It would cost $30 to obtain the records.  The office refused to take a check or cash but stated in an email:

No cash, credit or debit cards, or personal checks may be accepted. Money orders, certified checks, or corporate checks are acceptable forms of payment made payable to the Office of the Mississippi Secretary of State.

Hmmm...... the Secretary of State's office has accepted checks from yours truly before, what gives? Perhaps the policy was on the books but the previous Secretary of State always accepted checks or cash for public records in an exercise of common sense.  Few agencies practice such an archaic policy.  Hell, the city of Jackson actually has the best system.  Citizens can both submit the public records request and pay for them online. 

However, if you want to pay for something else besides public records, the Secretary of State is much more forgiving of how you pay.  Want to file some corporate documents but only have your checkbook or credit card? No problem.


No mention of cashier's checks or money orders, is there? Suppose you are a sports agent who needs to register? Easy.  Just send in the form and enclose a check.


In fact, just about the only time one has to pay with a cashier's check or money order is if one wants copies of public records.  Such irony for an agency that is supposedly dedicated to the transparency of public records.



15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why in the hell are PUBLIC RECORDS behind a paywall in the first place?

If they want to prevent people using public records requests from abusing the system make some rules to stop it.

Better yet, just digitize everything and put it on sos.ms.gov and require a DL# and login ID.

Sec. Watson, call Dr. O at MS ITS and become a tech hero.

Anonymous said...

pacer is the biggest ripoff of all

Anonymous said...

And they want to take the DL administration from DPS? I hereby withdraw my support

Anonymous said...

The Sec of State (Mr. Watson) does, however, want to cram religion down your throat, at no cost to him. He does not realize that he is a public servant (read that: He works for us) and that there is a separation of church and state. Mr. Watson is off to a very bad start as Sec of State.

Anonymous said...

Watson has to GO!!

Anonymous said...

Watson obviously wants to make it difficult. Thankfully the legislature has more sense than to turn over driver licensing to his office if this is any example of his notion of customer service. And, yes, Kingfish and the rest of us are customer's of Watson's office. We are also his employer.

#wrongfootmike

Anonymous said...

Watson and his buddy Chris McDaniel want to shut down the Fake Media. To them, all of media is Fake Media.

Anonymous said...

There used to be a federal law that one was required to accept cash for a public debt. Has that been repealed?

Anonymous said...

Watson is not that smart. And he was a big Kemper power plant supporter as a legislator.

Cash or Credit said...

@10:40 PM - that is an urban legend.

https://www.expertlaw.com/library/consumer-protection/it-legal-refuse-cash-payment

Anonymous said...

And these are the same obstructionists running our elections.

Anonymous said...

7:48 - Your post is an urban legend. Why? There IS no 10:40.

Anonymous said...

So I assume you're talking about a FOIA request because most records on the Secretary of State's website are available for free. Particularly business records. Even certified copies can be ordered online and paid for the credit card. So I'm guessing that you are looking for something else like correspondence or emails or something internal, correct?

I think the reason they do this is because the SOS has no recourse against you if they give you the records and you bounce a personal check. For business filings or other registration, the SOS can pull your filing off the website and hold it until you make good. For records requests, however, once they give you the records that have no way to make sure you pay for them. Just my guess.

Kingfish said...

Bullshit. They can wait a few days to see if check clears. Other agencies do that. Funny how they are set up for credit card payments but not for public records. The predecessor accepted checks and cash.

As for the records requested, the website frankly has not been reliable. Some campaign finance reports as well as lobbyist registrations have disappeared. Hence I asked for hard copies instead of going to website.

As stated earlier, other agencies and governments take checks with nary a problem. No excuse for this crap, especially when bank branches are dwindling in number.

Unknown said...

KF. So this is a new policy with Watson? Or did Delbert do that too?

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