Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who made a name for herself by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, just got some very, very bad news from the state’s Attorney General.
The Kentucky Office of the Attorney General released an opinion declaring that Davis, the Rowan County clerk, and her attorneys with the Liberty Counsel, violated the Open Records Act by refusing to release requested documents regarding her legal battle over same-sex marriage last year. The Liberty first refused to release the public records to the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability, citing reasons such as attorney-client privilege and legal exceptions from preliminary documents.
The Liberty Counsel first refused to release the public records to the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability in March, and then declined to release them yet again when they were requested by the Attorney General for review.
The opinion stated that while Davis had not violated the Open Records Act by having her private attorneys respond to the request, she did violate this statute when she refused to turn over the documents to Attorney General Andy Beshear.
An agency cannot benefit from intentionally frustrating the attorney general’s review of an open records request,” said Assistant Attorney General Matt Jones. “Such result would subvert the General Assembly’s intent behind providing review by the attorney general.”
Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of the
Band of Bigots Liberty Counsel, said he never had a problem with releasing the documents. He just wanted to make sure Davis’ right to attorney-client privilege wasn’t violated, because it would be ever so horrible to violate somebody’s rights now, wouldn’t it? But I digress. Staver is not expected to file an appeal and said he will turn over the documents in question.
Anne Weismann, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, was pleased with the findings of the attorney general and explained that her group had requested the records because they wanted to get a better understanding of Davis’ relationship with the anti-LGBT group.
I think the Attorney General was right to call them on completely flouting the law,” Weisman said.
She added that public officials should not allow their responsibility to the government to be hindered by their representation by their private attorney.
Under the Open Records Act, Davis and the Liberty Counsel could be required to pay the legal fees accrued by the Campaign for Accountability, in addition to as much as $25 a day for each day they refused to release the requested documents.
Davis has asked the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to dismiss her appeal of extensive litigation and a contempt finding stemming from last year’s legal battle in Rowan County over same-sex marriage licenses. Davis says that she is satisfied with recent changes by the state’s legislature that reduce the visibility of clerk’s names on Kentucky marriage licenses.
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