ACLU pushes ahead with lawsuit against governor, citing “serious lacks of transparency and accountability”

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a judge to step in and make a ruling in their lawsuit against Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

The ACLU is representing two Oklahoma organizations which filed Open Records requests with the governor's office more than two and a half years ago.

"All they wanted is what every citizen has a right to: access to public records of a state agency," said ACLU Legal Director Brady Henderson.

A year ago, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the governor's office.

They have not filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting the judge make a determination on whether Fallin's office is in violation of the Open Records Act.

It has been 915 days since the elderly advocacy group 'A Perfect Cause' filed their Open Records request for documents.

"This is one of the most serious lacks of transparency and accountability we have seen in Oklahoma government," Henderson said.

A Perfect Cause founder, Wes Bledsoe, believes thousands of elderly Oklahomans have died waiting for the governor to respond to their request, which was filed originally in May of 2014.

"Over 8,000 nursing home residents have suffered and died in our nursing  homes during that period of time," Bledsoe said.

The Oklahoma Observer requested records and communication about execution protocol in July of 2014.

The newspaper filed requests with Fallin, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

The governor's office was the only to fail to respond.

"From where I sit, this information could have given us some insight that some could have used to factor into their decisions on the vote on the death penalty question on the ballot on November 8th," said the editor of The Observer, Arnold Hamilton.

According to the motion, Oklahoma's neighbor's in other states define reasonable access as three to 10 days:

  • Arkansas: Requires production in three business days
  • Colorado: Three working days or less
  • Iowa: No more than 20 calendar days
  • Kansas: Three day period
  • Missouri: Three day period
  • Mississippi: Up to seven working days
  • Nebraska: Four business days
  • New Mexico: Maximum is set at 15 days
  • Texas: Requires compliance or a showing of good cause for delay within 10 days
  • Utah: 10 days is the default requirement

The governor's press secretary, Michael McNutt, issued the following statement:

"The governor's office does not comment on pending litigation."