Gov. Mary Fallin is claiming an executive privilege to hide records that reveal political considerations behind her decisions on state policy.
Included would be documents telling Fallin "who might be supportive of certain policy agendas in the legislature, both now and in the future, whether such support would exist after an upcoming election, and whether facts exist to help persuade the legislatures and others to support the governor's agenda," according to the formal response to an Open Records Act lawsuit against the governor.
The Lost Ogle, represented by the ACLU of Oklahoma, is challenging Fallin's claim that executive and deliberative process privileges permit her to withhold 100 pages of advice from "senior executive branch officials" on the creation of a state health insurance exchange.
Fallin is the first Oklahoma governor to claim these privileges even though as a candidate she pledged to "support at every opportunity" the state's policy that "people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."
Fallin's unprecedented use of executive privilege in Oklahoma earned her FOI Oklahoma's annual Black Hole Award in early March.
In the court filing May 31, the Attorney General's Office said an "expanded, non-deliberative process component of the executive privilege protects communications needed for the executives to function in pursuit of their policy decisions...." (P. 4)
The response contends that The Lost Ogle must show "a substantial or compelling need for the documents" before the judge can privately inspect the records to determine if "the public interest in confidentiality" outweighs "the Plaintiff's demonstrated need for disclosure of each document." (P. 8)
For more background on the lawsuit and Fallin's claims of executive privilege:
- Gov. Fallin claims unprecedented constitutional privileges to hide records from public
- FOI Oklahoma calls on Gov. Fallin to drop privilege claims, release records
- Gov. Fallin claims executive, deliberative process privileges to withhold documents related to her reversal on 'Obamacare' policy
- The Lost Ogle, ACLU challenge Gov. Fallin's claim of privileges to withhold records
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.