FOX 25 Investigates: AG Pruitt potentially using private email for state business
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Records received by FOX 25 through an Open Records Request to Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office reveal he may have used a private email account to conduct state business.
The records were released this week to FOX 25 following a request submitted for records on May 1, 2015. The attorney general’s office provided more than 1,300 pages of records to comply with our request. The initial request was centered around Attorney General Pruitt and, then, Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and their actions regarding the Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross.
The Attorney General’s office, which was represented by Wyrick at the Supreme Court, submitted documents to multiple federal courts that the state claimed belonged to them. In fact, the state falsified that claim and later claimed a “citation error” in its explanation for the false statement to the Supreme Court.
The emails provide little insight into how or why officials within the Attorney General’s office made the decisions it did during the case. However, on multiple documents both to and from Pruitt the email addresses for Pruitt are blacked out. This type of redaction does not occur on the email addresses from Pruitt’s official government email account. The documents show he used multiple alias government email addresses.
One email chain shows emails were sent on a weekend between senior staff at the attorney general’s office. Those emails copied both Pruitt’s official email account and a redacted account.
The redactions in the records provided to FOX 25 are precise and include only the email account, including user name and domain. The blacked out portion often falls between the markers the computer program used to denote the entirety of the email address. When compared to the length of the official email addresses for the Attorney General, the redacted sections do not match the length of the space taken up by the official email addresses.
None of the emails provided only use the redacted email account, rather they include other official email accounts. FOX 25 has asked the Attorney General’s office if a search of Pruitt’s private email account was done in order to find documents relating to our request.
Oklahoma’s open records laws indicate that private email accounts used for public business are to be included as part of open records disclosures.
Governor Mary Fallin also maintains a private email account, which FOX 25 exclusively showed she used to set up meetings with lobbyists during the legislative session. The Governor’s office has maintained the private email account is not in violation of the letter or spirit of the Open Records Act and they do consider records she sent using that private account part of the public record.
Attorney General Pruitt’s office is at the center of controversy surrounding emails and records release. An Oklahoma County Judge ordered Pruitt to turn over documents requested by an out-of-state watchdog group, The Center for Media and Democracy.
In response to the judge’s order the attorney general’s press secretary, Lincoln Ferguson, sent FOX 25 this statement. “The Office of Attorney General remains committed to following the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act. In light of that, we are reviewing all of our options in order to ensure fairness to all requestors rather than elevating the importance of some requests over others."
The recently filled request for FOX 25 was submitted after at least one of the requests made by the Center for Media and Democracy.
FOX 25 made multiple phone calls and sent multiple emails to Pruitt’s press secretary and did not receive a reply.