Lawsuit filed: Watchdog group, ACLU allege Attorney General Scott Pruitt violated Open Records Act

OKLAHOMA CITY - There’s a legal battle over documents linking AG Scott Pruitt to big oil.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by a watchdog group and the ACLU, comes just days before the U.S. Senate votes on whether to confirm Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The watchdog group is suing for thousands of emails between Pruitt and leaders in the energy sector and a political action committee that helped block President Obama’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuit alleges Pruitt violated our state’s Open Records Act.

“We can’t make good decisions about how are government is functioning unless we know how our government is functioning,” ACLU Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said.

The Center for Media and Democracy filed nine open records requests with the AG’s office, beginning in January 2015.

“Probably the largest request we have is for communication: emails, phone calls, [and] scheduling related to his involvement with various energy companies, as well as his involvement with the republican attorney general’s association,” attorney Blake Lawrence said.

The RAGA, a corporate funded association, led an effort to derail the Supreme Court confirmation of Merrick Garland.

As Attorney General, Pruitt sued the very agency he’s been tapped to lead more than a dozen times.

The group suing alleges Pruitt received nearly $350,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

They want his dealings with those in the industry public – and soon.

“I really think that’s up to the United States Senate as to whether or not there are enough senators willing to move forward with his confirmation hearing without having these relevant documents available to them,” Kiesel said.

“Just last week our office contacted the Center for Media and Democracy to notify them that release of their request was imminent. The fact that they have now filed suit despite our ongoing communications demonstrates that this is nothing more than political theater,” AG Spokesperson Lincoln Ferguson said in a statement.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the AG’s office agreed to an order to preserve all documents while this case is pending.

A judge set a hearing for next Thursday.