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Oklahoma governor's office releases thousands of records, but withholds some

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin claims executive privilege on some documents sought in records request
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: March 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm •  Published: March 29, 2013

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin released more than 51,000 pages of documents Friday to meet public records requests for information about how her office made health care decisions, but advocates of the state's open record laws are concerned about what was not released.

In its request made in November, The Oklahoman asked for all emails relating to Fallin's decision first to accept and then to reject $54 million in federal health care funding to develop a health care exchange, a primary component of the new federal health care law passed in 2010 and often called Obamacare.

The governor's office said 31 emails, representing 100 pages, were not released under what it described as exemptions related to executive privilege, deliberative process privilege and attorney-client privilege.

In a letter included with the release, Fallin's general counsel, Steve Mullins, said that only reflects 0.2 percent of all documents that qualified under the request.

“As you can see, very few documents fall within a privileged category and it has always been the practice of this administration to invoke privilege sparingly,” Mullins wrote. “The governor is firmly committed to the principles of transparent and open government.”

That defense is not enough for advocates of the state's open record laws, who say there is no legal exemption for executive privilege.

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