Timeline of Transparent GMU Lawsuit

By Dana Nickel, Staff Writer

2005 – The Charles Koch Foundation begins donations to George Mason University totalling $95 million as of 2017 – the largest amount the foundation has donated to any school.

2012 – Transparent GMU’s founders learn of the donations from the CKF and begin researching the foundation and their ties to higher education.

April 14, 2014 – Transparent GMU submits their first request to see the CKF/GMU Foundation donor agreements under the Freedom of Information Act.

April 18, 2014 – Transparent GMU’s request is denied under the pretense that the donations were given through the George Mason University Foundation, a private organization that is not subject to FoIA.

August 2014 – Transparent GMU publishes an open letter to President Cabrera in the Fourth Estate inviting him to answer questions about the donations and their effect on the university.

September 5, 2014 – President Cabrera responds in a blog post, saying that “academic freedom is never for sale.”

November 6, 2014 – Transparent GMU meets with Janet Bingham, president of the GMU Foundation. She tells the group that the written donor agreements do not exist.

December 9, 2014 – A petition stating “All we want for Christmas is a meeting with you!” and  292 candy canes are delivered to President Cabrera’s office over the span of seven hours. President Cabrera claims to have never received the petition or the candy canes.

February 3, 2015 – President Cabrera holds an “Ask Me Anything” meeting with the student body. He claims that the information pertaining to the CKF donations “has already been provided.”

March 18, 2015 – President Cabrera fails to attend a second scheduled “Ask Me Anything” meeting.

April 2, 2015 – Transparent GMU submits their second request to see the CKF/GMU Foundation donor agreements under FoIA, as well as past correspondences pertaining to the donations.

June 4, 2015 – The administration claims that gathering and reviewing the documents and correspondences pertaining to the CKF donations would cost Transparent GMU over $8,000. Transparent GMU announces they will be “taking a break” from the campaign for the documents.

March 21, 2016 – GMU announces that their law school would be renamed to honor the late Justice Antonin Scalia after the CKF and an anonymous second donor pledge to donate $20 million to the law school over the next five years.

October 6, 2016 – Transparent GMU protests outside the renaming ceremony for the law school.

January 9, 2017 – Transparent GMU submits their third request with help from a Richmond law firm, seeking all grants, agreements, and related documents from the CKF and seven other charitable organizations and all parties affiliated with them.

January 12, 2017 – The GMU Freedom of Compliance office tells Transparent GMU, “there are no documents in the possession of George Mason University which are responsive to the request.”

January 17, 2017 – The counsel for Transparent GMU submits to the GMU Foundation a request for records under the Virginia Code of Law.

January 31, 2017 – The George Mason University Foundation responds to Transparent GMU, saying “George Mason University Foundation, Inc. is a private corporation, not a public body, as defined in the Code of Virginia. As such, the foundation is not subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.”

September 22, 2017 – Oral arguments begin for a lawsuit against the school and the GMU Foundation to reveal the pertinent documents.

This information has been provided by a comprehensive document from Transparent GMU along with the appropriate articles, posts, and correspondences.

Correction: The timeline of Transparent GMU’s lawsuit (page 6, Oct. 23) incorrectly credited Alex Shedd, News Assistant Editor, instead of the correct credit to Dana Nickel, Staff Writer.