Sunshine Fund Update

Published December 31, 2013

Ryan Bagwell, founder of the Penn State Sunshine Fund, provided the following update to contributors yesterday.

Suit filed against the Philadelphia District Attorney

As you may know, the Office of Open Records ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney in November to release correspondence with several individuals associated with the Sandusky investigation. The DA has not released the records. Read more about it here. As a result, on Monday, my attorneys filed a lawsuit to force the DA to comply with the order.

People often wonder what the Philadelphia District Attorney has to do with the Sandusky scandal. The reason I asked for this information is that Frank Fina, the lead Sandusky prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office, took a job with the Philly DA just before Kathleen Kane was elected Attorney General. While he was employed by the Philadelphia DA, Fina corresponded with former supervising grand jury judge Barry Feudale, who oversaw the Sandusky grand jury. So I simply asked for that correspondence, along with communications between Fina and Freeh investigators.

This action not only seeks to obtain the requested records. It’s also a message to public agencies everywhere that you can’t thumb your nose at Right-to-Know Law requests and get away with it.

Since only part of this action is designed to force transparency about Penn State issues, it will be a low priority for the Sunshine Fund. I’m committed to paying for this effort, and hope to recover attorneys fees in the end. After other obligations have been met, I may seek reimbursement if funds are available after higher-priority actions have been covered.

Please help this effort by e-mailing District Attorney and Penn State alumnus Seth Williams and urge him to comply with the OOR’s order. You can also contact him on Twitter at @dasethwilliams

Contributions and expenditures

Thanks in part to your generosity, total contributions to the fund passed $10,000 last week. As of today, 142 people from 81 cities in 22 states have donated $10,915. It’s a significant milestone that sends a very loud message: Penn Staters are willing to fight for the answers they deserve. The response leaves me humbled and very proud to be part of this effort.

As part of my commitment to transparency, I’ve pledged to provide periodic updates about how the fund’s money is being used, along with statements of financial activity. So far, with the exception of payment processing fees, none of the fund’s contributions have been spent (don’t worry – the money will be put to good use very soon). I’ve personally covered all administrative costs, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.