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ACLU Asks Judge To Order Governor's Office To Comply With Open Records Law

ACLU of Oklahoma legal director Brady Henderson during a Nov. 9, 2015 press conference, with executive director Ryan Kiesel in the background.
Jacob McCleland
ACLU of Oklahoma legal director Brady Henderson during a Nov. 9, 2015 press conference, with executive director Ryan Kiesel in the background, on November 9, 2015.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is asking a judge to order Gov. Mary Fallin’s office to immediately fulfill two Open Records Act requests.

The nursing home advocacy group A Perfect Cause, and the newspaper The Oklahoma Observer, both requested documents in 2014. The governor’s office still has not complied with the request.

ACLU legal director Brady Henderson called the slow response one of the most serious cases of lack of transparency in the state.

“The Open Records Act here in Oklahoma isn’t just about giving us records,” Henderson said. “It’s not just about letting us see what government is doing on our dime. What it’s also about is being able to react to that, and that means being able to look at records and if we see government doing something we don’t think it ought to be doing, reacting to that. And that means at the ballot box.”

The ACLU filed the motion for summary judgment in the Oklahoma County District Court.

A Perfect Cause requested documents concerning the governor’s office’s communication regarding nursing homes on May 13, 2014. The Oklahoma Observer asked for records that deal with Fallin’s consideration of clemency for two death row inmates on June 16, 2014.

Henderson says an entire electoral cycle has passed since the requests were submitted.

“If a request were filed today with the governor’s office for open records, assuming that they don’t magically get a whole lot faster, it would not be answered until well into the term of the governor’s successor,” Henderson said.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in November of 2015, requesting the governor's office to complete the requests.

Fallin’s spokesperson said the governor’s office does not comment on pending litigation.

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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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