Open Records
6:59 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Fallin Releases 31 Previously Withheld Documents

Gov. Mary Fallin has released 31 documents that her administration previously withheld involving her administration's decision to reject a state health insurance exchange under the federal health care law.

Fallin said in a statement that even though a judge ruled she could withhold certain emails, she decided to waive that right because she is "committed to transparency."

But ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel says if Fallin had produced the documents nearly two years ago under the Open Records Act, Oklahomans would have had more transparency and been spared unnecessary legal costs.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of the satirical website The Lost Ogle which joined with several news organizations, including The Associated Press, in the request for the documents under the Open Records Act.

The documents, totaling 100 pages, related to Fallin's decision to reject a federal grant offered to help the state create a health-care exchange for purchase of insurance.

The Oklahoman's Rick Green reports a Nov. 14, 2012 email from Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz to policy director Katie Altshuler and chief of staff Denise Northrup discussed options for how to respond to the Affordable Care Act:

“In my opinion the two choices that make the most sense are: State exchanges can be good if done right so we are going to build one OR Obamacare sucks, we aren’t going to help implement it and we aren’t creating an exchange,” Weintz said in the email.

“Since there is no way the legislature is going to allow us to do the former, I suggest we do the latter.”

She withheld the documents claiming an exemption, “executive privilege,” that does not appear in the Open Records Act. Her office also said the records involved attorney-client communications and private deliberations on public-policy decisions.

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