FOI Oklahoma calls on Gov. Fallin to drop privilege claims, release records

Dear Gov. Fallin:

I am writing as president of FOI Oklahoma Inc. to express disappointment that you have withheld important records and emails you used in making decisions impacting the citizens of Oklahoma.

Your office has claimed at least three times recently that executive branch privileges allow you to hide records from public view.

This is disappointing because conducting government in secrecy defies the state's Open Records Act and frustrates the ability of citizens to understand basic functions of state government.

Your actions are puzzling because you signed a pledge on March 13, 2010, that you "will comply with not only the letter but also the spirit of Oklahoma's Open Meeting and Open Records Laws."

You also pledged to "support at every opportunity" the state's policy that "people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."

Your legal advisers have claimed that records requested by various media outlets are protected by privileges that far exceed what the state Legislature and the state Supreme Court have granted government officials.

State courts have not recognized that executive privilege and deliberative process privilege exist under the state Constitution.

Your attorney, Steve Mullins, was quoted in The Oklahoman as saying your administration is "more open than anybody else has ever been."

Yet, you want privileges of secrecy that none of your predecessors thought was necessary.

I ask you to drop the executive privilege claims and release the records withheld under those claims.


Lindel Hutson
FOI Oklahoma Inc. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.