Fallin prepares to release health care emails

Four months after The Oklahoman requested her emails, Fallin plans to finally comply.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: March 28, 2013
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Four months after The Oklahoman made a public records request, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's office was planning to release documents Friday concerning state government's approach to health care issues.

Rebecca Frazier, Fallin's deputy general counsel, said the documents will be released to The Oklahoman and several other media organizations at 10:30 a.m.

Frazier did not say whether any emails would be exempted from the records request.

In its request, The Oklahoman asked for all emails relating to Fallin's decision to first accept and then reject $54 million in health care funding to develop a health care exchange, a primary component of the new federal health care law passed last year known as Obamacare.

Six additional news media organizations and an Internet blog followed the newspaper in filing similar requests under the state's Open Records Act.

Citing executive privilege, Fallin said in February that she may withhold some of the emails that concern policymaking decisions.

Government transparency advocates have said that if Fallin does invoke executive privilege she will be redefining state law and stripping the public and media organizations of rights present in the state's Open Records Act for 30 years.

The state's Insurance Department responded to an identical records request in February. Among the 7,000 emails included in that release were several that indicated the decision to return federal grant money for the exchange came after prominent conservative Barry Goldwater Jr. criticized Oklahoma officials for accepting the federal money.



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