Politics & Government

McCrory administration criticizes coalition over records lawsuit

A coalition that includes The News & Observer has filed a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, alleging a pattern of state records law violations that the plaintiffs say amount to “willful” failures to carry out mandatory duties.
A coalition that includes The News & Observer has filed a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, alleging a pattern of state records law violations that the plaintiffs say amount to “willful” failures to carry out mandatory duties. cseward@newsobserver.com

The office of Gov. Pat McCrory is criticizing a coalition that includes The News & Observer that on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against his administration. The suit alleges a pattern of state records law violations that the plaintiffs say amount to “willful” failures to carry out mandatory duties.

The suit seeks a court order to compel McCrory and his cabinet secretaries to make available public records that have long been sought by the plaintiffs.

McCrory’s office issued a statement after 8 p.m. on Tuesday that said the lawsuit “is an attempt to tie up state personnel and resources that should be spent serving the people of North Carolina.”

“Now, this lawsuit will require us to hire more lawyers at taxpayers’ expense to respond to this baseless and ridiculous lawsuit,” the governor’s office said in the statement.

It also criticized the plaintiffs as “a coalition of liberal news media outlets and advocacy groups” that are part of organizations the administration says are “exploiting the public records law and filing overly-broad and duplicative records requests that gum up the day-to-day operations of state government.”

The coalition now has “taken this exploitation to a new level with a coordinated lawsuit that ignores the facts,” the governor’s office said.

Joining in the suit are the Charlotte Observer Publishing Co.; Capitol Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL-TV; Boney Publishers, which operates the Alamance News; the Southern Environmental Law Center; ZM Indy Inc., which operates the Indy Week newspaper; Media General Operations, which operates WNCN-TV in Raleigh; and the North Carolina Justice Center, which includes N.C. Policy Watch.

The plaintiffs allege that since McCrory took office in 2013 “he and his Cabinet have violated the Public Records Law regularly and repeatedly.”

The suit alleges seven different ways the law has not been followed, including failing to provide records promptly and imposing “unjustified or unreasonable” charges for locating, retrieving and copying public records.

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