OK-SAFE, Inc. Blog

June 18, 2014

Judge Swinton rules on Fallin Open Records case

Filed under: Exposing Health Care Reform — Tags: , , , , , — oksafeinc @ 12:37 am

OK-SAFE, Inc. – This is an update on the open records lawsuit filed against OK Gov. Fallin by The Lost Ogle and the ACLU. See our earlier post on this issue for background details.

Rather than ‘executive privilege’, “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”

Royalty

From the Tulsa World, 6/17/14:

Judge rules Gov. Fallin can withhold documents on her ACA-Medicaid decision, by Barbara Hoberock

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin has the power to withhold documents from the public based on a “deliberative process” privilege, a judge ruled Tuesday.

“The court finds the deliberative process privilege is recognized under common law in Oklahoma, and it is supported by Supreme Court rule as an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,” the opinion by Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton states. “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”

The opinion notes the purpose of the privilege “is to ensure that subordinates within an agency will (be able) to provide the decision maker with their uninhibited opinions and recommendations without fear of later being subjected to public ridicule or criticism.”  Rest here.

From News9, 6/17/14:

Oklahoma Judge Rules Governor Mary Fallin Can Withhold Documents

OKLAHOMA CITY –

An Oklahoma County judge has upheld Gov. Mary Fallin’s legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.

District Judge Barbara Swinton handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit on behalf of the satirical news website The Lost Ogle was joined with several news organizations, including The Associated Press, in a request for documents related to Fallin’s decisions to reject a state health insurance exchange and to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income and uninsured Oklahomans. Rest here.

The Lost Ogle, 6/17/14, has a slightly different take on the judge’s decision:

The Judge Has Ruled in our Open Records Lawsuit…    by Patrick

Earlier today, Judge Swinton released her verdict in our Open Records lawsuit against Mary Fallin. Although we didn’t “win” the case, we didn’t necessarily “lose” it either….

1. The judge agreed with us that Mary Fallin doesn’t have the “executive privilege” to withhold the emails. That’s important

2. Deliberative Process Privilege is part of common law and comes with a catch. Judge Swinton ruled Mary Fallin has 20 days to produce a privilege log of the documents she wants to keep secret. In the log, only the content of the emails can be withheld. Basically, Fallin’s office has to put together the dates, sender, recipients of subject lines of all the secret emails. It’s a start.  Rest here.

The Lost Ogle goes on the say there is likely to be an appeal to the Supreme Court on this issue.

Good.

 

June 15, 2014

Oklahoma Judge to rule on Open Records Request

OK-SAFE, Inc. – (Background note: In mid-2010 former OK Governor Brad Henry signed the grant application for a $54 million Early Innovator grant to establish an insurance exchange in Oklahoma.  This exchange was a cornerstone of Obama Care.  In February 2011 Governor Mary Fallin accepted the grant money, after having won the 2010 election campaigning against Obama Care.

Public outrage and political push back followed.

In late April 2011 Fallin did an ‘about face’ and rejected the $54 million. Open records request by various news outlets sought the correspondence leading up to this decision.  In March 2013 Gov. Fallin’s office released 50,000 pages of documents. Missing were 100 pages of correspondence, held back claiming “executive privilege”.  The Lost Ogle and the ACLU then sued the Governor, seeking the missing documents.)

From FOI Oklahoma, June 13, 2014:

Ruling expected today on whether executive, deliberative process privileges allow Oklahoma governor to keep records secret

An Oklahoma County trial judge said Thursday she expects to rule “by the end of the week” on whether executive and deliberative process privileges permit Gov. Mary Fallin to keep records secret from the public.

Because Fallin is the first Oklahoma governor to claim these privileges, Oklahoma courts have never addressed the issue.

“I am just trying to find out how much authority I have out there to rely on,” District Judge Barbara Swinton told Fallin’s attorney during heard oral arguments Thursday.

The Lost Ogle and the ACLU of Oklahoma sued Fallin in April 2013 after she claimed these privileges allow her to keep secret 100 pages of advice from “senior executive branch officials” on the creation of a state health insurance exchange.

(Vandelay Entertainment LLC v. Fallin, Mary, No. CV-2013-763 (Okla. Co. April 9, 2013))

Fallin’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion funding affected about 250,000 Oklahomans.

The phrases “executive privilege” and “deliberate process privilege” do not exist in Oklahoma’s Constitution or in any Oklahoma statute.

Rest of post here.

We will post the judge’s decision when it becomes available.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: