December 11, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – Local news, entertainment and satire website TheLostOgle.com is the latest media organization to request that Governor Mary Fallin comply with Oklahoma’s Open Records Act. The request seeks the release of emails and reports surrounding the Governor’s decisions rejecting medicaid funding that would have provided health care to nearly 200,000 Oklahomans and refusing to set up a state health care exchange. With the ACLU of Oklahoma serving as legal counsel, the publisher of TheLostOgle.com filed an open records request with the office of Governor Fallin, as well as Secretary of State Glenn Coffee and other agents of state government.
These requests seek correspondence, emails, reports, and memos to which Oklahoma citizens are entitled under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, which requires state government agencies and public officials to maintain open and public access to most records so that citizens may be directly informed about what their government is doing. In multiple prior requests under this Act, Governor Fallin’s office has refused to comply with the law, repeatedly citing “executive privilege,” which is not recognized by Oklahoma law and is not listed as a permissible exception under the Open Records Act.
“Transparency and liberty go hand in hand,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of ACLU of Oklahoma. “The ACLU of Oklahoma is committed to ensuring that government officials abide by the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act.”
“Like other media organizations, we filed these requests to get a better understanding on the decision making process taking place inside the Governor’s office.” said Patrick Riley, founder and publisher of TheLostOgle.com. “But perhaps more importantly, we did this to help protect the media and public’s rights to transparency in government.”
“The Open Records requests filed by TheLostOgle.com join the requests filed by many other media organizations, and we sincerely hope the Governor and her staff will abandon the fictitious loopholes they now claim insulate them from the pending requests, and comply with the law.” said Kiesel.
ACLU of Oklahoma’s Legal Director Brady Henderson says they are prepared for the scenario in which the the Governor’s legal team continues to assert they are not bound by the Open Records Act. “We cannot speak for other media organizations, but it should be known that with these particular requests our client intends to aggressively challenge any denial, and we are prepared to test the Governor’s legal arguments in court,” said Henderson.
“This is a battle that must be won to ensure that future generations of Oklahomans can hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable for their actions and inactions,” said Henderson.