Oklahoma Judge Rules Governor Mary Fallin Can Withhold Documents

Tuesday, June 17th 2014, 6:31 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma County judge has upheld Gov. Mary Fallin's legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma's Open Records Act.

District Judge Barbara Swinton handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit on behalf of the satirical news website The Lost Ogle was joined with several news organizations, including The Associated Press, in a request for documents related to Fallin's decisions to reject a state health insurance exchange and to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income and uninsured Oklahomans.

5/27/2014 Related Story: Governor Fallin's Open Records Policy Creates Transparency Concern

Fallin's office released more than 51,000 pages of emails and other correspondence, but withheld 31 documents consisting of 100 pages of materials that her lawyer, Steve Mullins, determined to be part of "executive and deliberative process privileges."

The governor's communications director issued a statement to News 9 saying, "We are pleased by the court's ruling today, which recognizes the right of the governor to exert ‘deliberative process' privilege. That privilege is commonly exerted by chief executives on both state and federal levels to protect the ability to receive candid, private advice on issues of public policy."