Ohio Sen. Dunn to Pursue Public Records Lawsuit Against Gov. Taft

July 28, 2005

Ohio State Sen. Marc Dann will not drop his public records lawsuit against Gov. Bob Taft, even though the governor has released hundreds of documents he wanted, the Associated Press reported.

The Youngstown area Democrat said he wants unedited, original papers and also still wants a sworn statement from Taft about failed investments by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Some of the weekly reports from top officials at the embattled state insurance fund for injured workers were at least partially blacked out. Taft’s office said the information wasn’t related to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Dann said he also wants to know why there are no reports for some weeks.

“There’s lots of reason to believe I haven’t gotten what I asked for,” he said. “I wanted the copies of the actual documents, not redacted documents. It’s just another reason to stonewall and delay.”

Taft will continue to argue that the documents are covered by executive privilege, even though he has waived it, spokesman Mark Rickel said.

“It’s about this governor and future governors and the ability to effectively communicate with cabinet members and staff,” Rickel said. “This isn’t just about BWC.”

Dann contends the content of the memos show they don’t qualify under executive privilege, the principle that certain executive branch communications should remain confidential so the office can run properly.

Dann filed a lawsuit July 6 with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking several years of weekly memos between Taft’s office and the bureau. Taft, a Republican, initially fought the release, arguing the reports were not covered by the state’s open records act, but changed his mind last week and agreed to release more than five years’ worth of the documents.

Dann’s attorney, Frederick Gittes, was to take a sworn statement Wednesday from Kate Bartter, Tafts chief policy director.

Taft offered to have her give a statement in place of himself and others that Gittes had requested, including James Samuel, Taft’s former executive assistant; Jon Allison, the governors chief-of-staff, and James Conrad, former administrator for the Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Bartter might help verify what information is missing from the memos, Gittes said. But Gittes expects he will still want to depose Taft, who can tell how he uses the weekly memos.

After Taft turned over the documents last week, Kathleen Trafford, his state-hired attorney, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it moot now that all documents have been released.

Gittes must file a response to the dismissal request by Monday.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.