Conservative blogger sues state officials after access to public records denied

Catherine Melancon Nov. 16, 2012, 4:58am

Scott McKay, editor of The Hayride

BATON ROUGE – The editor of the Louisiana online news website and blog The Hayride is suing the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives record custodians after he was allegedly denied access to records.

Scott McKay filed suit against Alfred Speer, Clerk of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and Glenn Koepp, Secretary of the Louisiana Senate in the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 8.

McKay alleges he requested electronic communications between Representatives John Bel Edwards and Patricia Smith and Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan, Louisiana Federation of Teachers Legislative Director Mary Patricia Wray, Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes and Louisiana Association of Educators Executive Director Michael Walker Jones between Jan. 9 and March 29, but was denied. He claims he also sent a request to Koepp for electronic communications between Senators Karen Carter Petersen and Ben Nevers and Monaghan, Wray, Haynes and Jones.

Speer allegedly stated in an email to McKay that the records would take 81 days to recreate. The defendant stated after that recreation, he would then begin review of the record "to delete all non-public records, i.e. e-mails that have nothing to do with conducting the public's business."

The plaintiff claims he requested the records two more times, and as of Nov. 2, 219 days after the first request, McKay still has not received the public records.

The defendants are accused of arbitrarily and capriciously delaying the plaintiff's fundamental right to view public records and not abiding by their statutory duties as custodians to produce the records.

The plaintiff asserts that written communications between legislators and private lobbyists and interest groups are not privileged as "non-public" records according to Louisiana law.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for attorneys' fees and other costs of litigation.

McKay also demands that the requested records be released to him immediately.

He is represented by Scott L. Sternberg of Baldwin, Haspel, Burke and Mayer, LLC of New Orleans.

The case has been assigned to Division E Judge William A. Morvant.

Case no. 616742.

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