The Norman Transcript


June 13, 2014

ACLU, attorneys spar in Fallin records case

OKLAHOMA CITY — An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told an Oklahoma County judge Thursday that Gov. Mary Fallin has no legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under the state’s Open Records Act concerning her rejection of a state health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law.

Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, urged District Judge Barbara Swinton to reject assertions by Fallin and her attorneys that she has the authority to claim an executive privilege that exempts her from the law and allows her office to withhold documents from the public that were used to establish important public policy.

Henderson said the public needs to know who is influencing their government and how.

“Openness in government is essential to the function of a democracy,” Henderson said.

But Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader urged the judge to affirm Fallin’s right to claim executive privilege to avoid interfering with the kind of “frank, candid and confidential” communications with her staff and others that he said is needed for her office to function.

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