A local critic of Washington, D.C.'s Metro system is suing the transit agency after it allegedly denied a records request for a 2018 customer satisfaction survey.
Unsuck DC Metro, an anonymous Metro watchdog with over 84,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook followers, filed suit Monday against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after it said Metro violated public records rules in refusing to release either the questions or results of a customer satisfaction survey.
The civil complaint asks that Metro produce the survey and that the court require Metro to be more responsive with information in the future.
It also claims WMATA is violating the First Amendment, denying access to public records and asking Unsuck DC Metro to pay over $300 in processing fees, according to a court document obtained by News4.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the legal group representing Unsuck DC Metro, told News4 that the suit is part of his group's efforts to increase government transparency.
"Our client has a simple request for what ought to be uncontroversial information," Fitton said. "In our significant experience, when agencies like this avoid disclosure, generally that means it has something to hide."
He also urged Metro to release the survey results quickly to avoid "a waste of taxpayer dollars."
According to the civil complaint, Unsuck DC Metro submitted a Public Access to Records Policy request to Metro on April 26, 2018, asking for a copy of Metro's most recent survey.
WMATA first rejected that request on May 14, 2018, and asserted that the record was privileged information.
Unsuck DC Metro appealed that decision later that day, the complaint says, but Metro again rejected that appeal again.
Then, on March 27, 2019, Metro released the 29-page survey from September 2018 with all but one of the pages completely redacted. According to the complaint, Metro said the redacted pages contained privileged information.
After receiving the redacted document and appealing the decision, Unsuck DC Metro also posted it online to show Metro officials' responses.
WMATA also allegedly told Unsuck DC Metro that it had to pay $324.17 in processing fees, and that it would no longer process pending or future records requests if these fees were not paid.
Metro could not be reached for comment.
Unsuck DC Metro, who has remained anonymous since launching nearly a decade ago, describes itself as a "an unincorporated association" made up of D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents with the goal "to raise awareness of and educate DMV residents and visitors about the operations of Metro."
It is represented by Michael Bekesha, a former D.C. Council candidate, and Judicial Watch, the conservative non-profit legal foundation.
This post has been updated with comment from Tom Fitton and to clarify the suit is asking for entire unredacted survey.