Governor McCrory's Dismal Record on Public Records
The News and Observer had a scathing column over the weekend that ripped Governor McCrory for repeatedly dragging his feet on public records requests. The column details a host of recent examples where months, if not longer passed before the paper received any information, and in most cases, still has not received anything.
Governor McCrory ran on a platform of openness and increased transparency, he's governed just the opposite.
Yet the McCrory administration’s record in meeting requests has been dismal:
▪ In July 2014, we requested email correspondence to and from the Department of Administration regarding the potential sale of the Dorothea Dix property to the city of Raleigh. That request included correspondence starting March 1, 2014. The public information officer at the Department of Administration passed responsibility for the request to the governor’s office. McCrory’s spokesman Josh Ellis told us a month ago that the request was nearly ready. We’ve heard nothing since. We sent a second request on March 30 covering Jan. 12, 2015 until the present. We’ve heard nothing on that request, either.
▪ We asked the Office of State Human Resources in September 2014 for information on state jobs eliminated by the McCrory administration for 2012, 2013 and 2014. We have received no data.
▪ We asked the governor’s office on March 11 for all emails sent to or from the governor’s email accounts between Jan. 1 and March 10, 2015. Nothing has been provided.
▪ We asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in August 2014 for drafts, memos or other correspondence related to the McCrory coal ash plan and the governor’s proposed bill, which was filed on the opening day of the legislative session last May. On Oct. 16, after several inquiries about when the records would be ready, Ellis, the McCrory spokesman, responded: “I’ll get it to you tomorrow.” The documents did not arrive. On Dec. 3, he wrote: “It’s done. I’ll send tomorrow.”
When the information still had not been provided by Dec. 18, The N&O sought further clarification. Ellis then provided information that day detailing the phone contacts between McCrory and Duke’s CEO. But nothing about the development of the coal ash plan was provided. The N&O renewed its request for all of the information.
On Jan. 20 of this year, Ellis sought clarification about what The N&O was seeking. The newspaper provided a copy of the original written request submitted in August. On March 18, some records were provided, including versions 12 and 13 of the coal ash legislation, but not versions 1 through 11. The governor’s office said those documents were not in its possession and would have to be sought from DENR under a separate request. The request was made to DENR on March 23. DENR has not provided any information since.
▪ We asked the state Department of Health and Human Services in September 2013 for the emails of Medicaid director Carol Steckel from her hiring in January 2013 to her resignation in September 2013. The following April, seven months later, DHHS lawyer Kevin Howell said no work had started on the request. In May, the agency released the first batch of email, mostly bulk email and newsletters. In March 2015, we got the seventh and presumably final batch, 18 months after the request.
▪ In late May 2014, we requested emails and attachments between DHHS, its contractors and the Office of State Budget and Management from May 19 to May 28, 2014, concerning a specific line item in the governor’s proposed budget. We have received nothing.