From ACLU of Iowa <[email protected]>
Subject Gov. Reynolds is not above Iowa open records laws
Date June 29, 2023 2:04 PM
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Transparency is a fundamental responsibility of Iowa state officials at all levels.

Friend –

Governor Kim Reynolds is not above the law and her office cannot simply ignore media requests for public records.

It's unconscionable that we had to go to the courts to establish that. But our six journalist and media clients did so, with a victory in April from the Iowa Supreme Court, setting an important precedent. And now, a district court has approved an agreement with the state. <[link removed]>

We brought the litigation after our clients, starting as early as April 2020, repeatedly sought records regarding the COVID pandemic and other matters of public interest. For several months, and in some cases, well over a year and a half, the journalists heard nothing back. In many cases, they did not even get an acknowledgment of the requests.

The Governor's Office eventually turned over the public records our clients had sought. And now, following the Supreme Court win and settlement, the Governor's Office has agreed to:

* Undergo a one-year period of judicial oversight to make sure it continues to comply with Iowa's Open Records Act.

* Pay $135,000 in legal fees and costs incurred during the year-and-a-half legal battle.

Demanding government transparency is fundamental to what the ACLU does. We appreciate our six clients – Clark Kauffman and The Iowa Capital Dispatch, Randy Evans and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, and Laura Belin and Bleeding Heartland – for fighting right there alongside us. It's crucial for our democracy that journalists can access public records in a timely manner and report on state government so that we the people can understand, oversee, and engage with our elected officials.

With appreciation,

Mark Stringer

Executive Director, ACLU of Iowa

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