An online blog known for its satirical jabs at Oklahoma media and political leaders is now taking on the governor's office.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court, Edmond-based Vandelay Entertainment — parent company to The Lost Ogle website — asked Gov. Mary Fallin to release 31 emails and documents that her office has declined to provide for public review.
The lawsuit was signed by Patrick Riley, publisher of The Lost Ogle, and Brady Henderson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
Fallin's office last month released more than 51,000 documents in response to a request by several media outlets for emails relating to the governor's decision to abandon plans for an online health insurance exchange, a primary component of the new federal health care law.
The 31 documents withheld in the release reflect about 100 different pages, said Fallin's general counsel, Steve Mullins.
Citing “executive privilege,” “deliberative process privilege” and “attorney-client privilege,” Mullins said some of Fallin's documents are protected from public scrutiny.
In a news release, Henderson said the protections cited by Mullins are nowhere in the state constitution.
“His assertion has received nearly universal condemnation from freedom of information experts and advocates for government transparency,” Henderson wrote. “Mary Fallin is the first governor of Oklahoma to challenge the people's right to be fully informed about their government. We filed this lawsuit to make sure she also will be the last.”
In a prepared response, Fallin's spokesman, Alex Weintz, stood behind the governor's decision to withhold the documents.
Weintz said executive and deliberative process privileges are recognized by the federal government and 46 states and that Fallin is “confident in her legal position.”
“She remains committed to following the letter and spirit of the law regarding Open Records, under which all nonprivileged documents are made public,” he said. “That is why she recently turned over 50,000 pages of document as requested by the press, withholding less than one tenth of a percent of that amount for reasons of privilege. As our office has explained before, these privileges are important in ensuring the governor can receive candid and private advice from her senior advisers.”