North Carolina press, SELC sue for access to public records
The Southern Environmental Law Center and a coalition of North Carolina press today filed suit in Wake County Superior Court against Governor Pat McCrory and top state officials in response to repeated violations of the Public Records Act, a state law designed to ensure public access to governmental records. Despite promises of transparency during his 2012 campaign, Gov. McCrory and his administration have consistently limited or denied access to important public information. This illegal behavior creates a barrier to public education and effective participation by citizens in democratic government processes and restricts the ability of the public to hold state government accountable for policies that impact the lives of North Carolina citizens. This transparency is particularly important as decisions are made concerning expenditures of scarce taxpayer funds and the stewardship of the state’s public and natural resources.
The McCrory administration’s systematic non-compliance with the North Carolina Public Records Act frequently takes the form of inordinate and unexplained delay in fulfilling public records requests. Other requests are simply ignored for years. The administration also has attempted to charge exorbitant and illegal fees for the collection, review by the public, and provision of requested public records. This combination of delay tactics and financial barriers makes today’s litigation necessary to restore public access to public records.