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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin won't budge on executive privilege claim concerning emails

Though Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's staff has updated its email and records release policies, she maintains that she is entitled to keep certain documents secret under a claim of executive privilege.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: April 8, 2013

Fallin's office has been criticized by open records advocates who say she is not complying with the state's Open Records Act, both by refusing to release certain documents and by not having a system in place to handle requests more quickly.

Thirty-one emails totaling 100 pages were not included in the office's response to the health care emails request, which was filed in November 2012.

Citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings and case law in other states, Fallin's handlers insist she has the right to keep her documents secret.

In a letter included with the emails release, Mullins listed 23 states where district courts have recognized executive privilege.

Mark Thomas, president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said that at some point the public will remember the fundamental issue is not open records but health care — why the governor opted not to establish an online exchange for plan purchases and why she rejected Medicaid expansion to hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans.

“It took them four months to put these things together. It's going to take us four months to analyze and figure out what they didn't release,” Thomas said of the media. “Hopefully, rural hospitals will not fail before we can figure it out.”

We can't figure out a way to say even those persons' (requests) who are short, that theirs is more important and we should take time out to do theirs before we do someone else's, so we're just going to do them in the order we receive them.”

Steve Mullins,
Gov. Mary Fallin's general counsel


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