Lawsuit filed against Governor Fallin regarding open records requests

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OKLAHOMA CITY — After more than a year and a half of waiting, two organizations have filed a lawsuit against the office of Governor Mary Fallin.

The lawsuit’s been filed by the ACLU, on behalf of ‘A Perfect Cause’, and the ‘Oklahoma Observer.’ Both organizations filed open records request with the Governor more than a year ago, and are still empty handed.

“We’re here today, really because of a problem that has begun years ago,” said Brady Henderson, with the ACLU. “It’s the right to know what’s happening in my own government, it’s the right to know what’s done with my tax dollars.”

‘A Perfect Cause’, an advocacy group for those in need of long term care, requested any records that show communication between the governor’s office and Oklahoma’s nursing home industry, among other records. That request was made more than 18 months ago, and still has not been fulfilled.

Wes Bledsoe, president of the organization, believes poor nursing home conditions could be to blame in the deaths of thousands each year.

“Literally thousands of Oklahomans are dying, including veterans who have served our nation,” said Bledsoe. “The governor was too busy to meet with us.”

The Oklahoma Observer is seeking records behind two different state executions in 2012 and 2013.

After months of waiting, officials with the Observer say they did, in fact, receive records from the governor’s office, but they were in connection with another execution, and were in no way related to the original request.

“If you want your records request responded to in a timely manner, it’s not a matter of relying on state law at this point,” said ACLU Executive Director, Ryan Kiesel. “It’s a matter of ‘lawyering up,’ going to a district court house, and filing some sort of action against the governors office.”

For the governor’s office, they say it’s a problem of volume.

Officials in the office claim the hundreds of thousands of documents that are requested must first be read by a member of the governor’s legal team.

“Since 2012, our office has turned over 357,000 pages of documents,” said Alex Weintz. “That means that our legal staff in our small office, has read 357,000 pages of documents, as you can imagine, that’s a very time consuming process.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Oklahoma County Courthouse on Monday. Stick with NewsChannel 4 for updates.

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