Governor's office releasing records after years of delays

Records requested in December of 2015 released by Governor's office in December of 2017 (Phil Cross/KOKH).

Public records are being made public again by the governor’s office. The office and Governor Mary Fallin are facing three lawsuits over open records access and is working to clear the backlog of requests for records under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

“Efforts to release records in a more timely fashion started last fall, and accelerated this spring under the direction of James Williamson, the governor’s general counsel,” Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt told FOX 25 in an email. “The revised policy basically consists of the governor’s office responding to simple open records requests as quickly as possible. Requests that span months and years, and are very broad in search terms continue, but on a first-come, first-served basis.”

The records received by FOX 25 were requested in 2015. The Oklahoma Open Records act says “A public body must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records.”

The governor’s office says they have released nearly 50,000 pages of records since August. Nearly 10,000 of those pages were part of multiple FOX 25 requests for investigations we began in 2015.

“New software in retrieving emails and the governor’s concern about transparency, along with our general counsel's leadership, are responsible for this revised approach,” McNutt wrote to FOX 25.

The governor’s office says there are now only eight remaining open record requests for the years 2014-2016 and 22 pending requests for 2017.

A hearing is scheduled for January 26, 2018 on a motion by the governor’s office to have a court rule she was right in delaying the release of records without a trial. The office is facing two other lawsuits that claim the governor’s office violated the law by not releasing records in a prompt and reasonable fashion.

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