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Kentucky officials bring reporter to court over open records

Posted at 11:49 AM, Nov 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-26 12:25:58-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky officials are suing a reporter to try to change the attorney general’s decision that a state panel is subject to open meetings law.

According to The State Journal, one of its reporters, Alfred Miller, is named in the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s lawsuit earlier this month.

The State Journal appealed to the attorney general in September after requests were denied for meeting schedules, minutes and identities of who sits on the Built-to-Suit Selection Committee tasked with picking who demolishes and rebuilds the Capital Plaza Tower.

A decision by Attorney General Andy Beshear and Assistant Attorney General Matt James said the Cabinet didn’t provide a valid legal reason not to comply with state open meetings law.

The cabinet’s lawsuit argues that an “overbroad interpretation” of open meetings law could “undermine the confidentiality of the procurement process by exposing evaluation team members to great risk of improper contact, lobbying, and public opinion pressure, especially when a procurement is the subject of strong community opinions.”

The attorney representing The State Journal, director of the Bluegrass Institute’s Center for Open Government Amye Bensenhaver, said the attorney general’s decision makes the cabinet comply with the public scrutiny that is required by its own statutes.

“They’re essentially arguing that darkness is the best disinfectant, which is inimical and contrary in every respect to the Open Meetings Act,” Bensenhaver said.

Earlier this month, the eight-member Built-to-Suit Selection Committee picked CRM/D.W. Wilburn as its contractor team to demolish the Capital Plaza Tower, the Frankfort Convention Center and two parking garages, among other structures.

Afterward, the firm will design, build, finance and operate a 385,500-square-foot, 1,500-employee office building and a 1,206-space parking facility.