CLEVELAND - In 2017, FOX 8 sought the contract that showed how much the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation paid Academy-Award winner Octavia Spencer to speak at a luncheon.
The Foundation took the position that it is "a private, nonprofit organization that is not subject to open records requests."
In the video, above, FOX 8's Bill Sheil explains how that led to a legal battle that lasted over a year.
In the end, FOX 8 won the lawsuit.
Below, you will find a copy of the Spencer contract, the appeals court decision and a statement Tri-C issued to us along with the contract.
The Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) Foundation is dedicated to making higher education accessible to underserved members of our community. Since 1992, the Foundation’s Presidential Scholarship Luncheon has raised more than $20 million for Tri-C student scholarships by bringing speakers of national and international significance to Northeast Ohio. Last year, with support from the Tri-C Foundation, the College awarded a record $3.2 million in scholarships to 2,700 students in need.
The Foundation denied Fox 8 Cleveland’s request for the contract of its 2017 Presidential Scholarship Luncheon speaker, and defended itself against the subsequent lawsuit, on the basis that it is a private, nonprofit organization that is not subject to open records requests. Moreover, speaker fees for its fundraisers are paid with private, not public, dollars. The 2017 event netted approximately $1 million for scholarships that directly benefited Tri-C students.
While there are other legal options available to us, the time and expense of continuing litigation would only detract from the Foundation’s mission and its focus on raising funds to help students in need.