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Monday, March 23, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Even more on: Is the General Assembly subject to the public records law?

This March 18th ILB post exclusively reported that the Chief Counsel to the House Republican Caucus had on March 16th denied the second, more specific request filed by the Energy and Policy Institute, a request refined, per the earlier PAC option, to identify the emails sought with "reasonable particularity," and that this new request had been met with a 3-page March 16th response from the Chief Counsel to the House Republican Caucus, again denying the request, asserting broadly that the Access to Public Records Law does not apply to the General Assembly.

Today the Energy and Policy Institute and the Citizens Action Coalition, by their attorney, William Groth, have submitted a new formal public access complaint against Rep. Koch and the House Republican Caucus:

The Respondents, Representative Eric Koch and the Indiana House Republican Caucus, by their officers, agents, and representatives, violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act on March 16, 2015 by denying the Complainants' enclosed public records request on the grounds, inter alia, that it is "not reasonably particular" because "the request covers over six months of time and numerous entities, names, and phrases," and that it requests "work product" of the "individual members and partisan staffs of the General Assembly," without explaining how the requested records are "work product." (See Attached Exhibits A-B).

Contrary to the Respondents, the Complainants' public records request is reasonably particular because it provides the Respondents with enough information to enable them to search for, locate, and retrieve the requested records, and, pursuant to the Public Access Counselor's instructions regarding requests for email communications, the request names a specific sender, recipient, and date frame. Furthermore, emails from outside groups to legislators are not, as a matter of law and statutory construction, "work product" of the legislators and! or their partisan staffs in that, among other reasons, they were not collected or prepared in anticipation of litigation.

While the Respondents additionally asserted that they are not subject to the Indiana Access to Public Records Act, this assertion has already been considered by the Public Access Counselor in 15-FC-69, dated March 6, 2015. The Complainants thus only seek the Public Access Counselor's opinion regarding the work product and reasonable particularity grounds cited by the Respondents in support of their denial.

The Complainants seek priority status for this complaint pursuant to 62 lAC 1-1-3(3) because the records are sought, inter alia, for the purpose of presenting them to the public in legislative proceedings regarding House Bill 1320 and similar related legislation. [ILB emphasis]

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 23, 2015 01:51 PM
Posted to Indiana Government