Tuesday, November 8, 2016

UofL Foundation merely procedurally violated the Open Records Act by its slow response

There is little the Attorney General can do when a public agency only violates open records procedure rather than the substance of the law.

On Aug. 31, 2016, the Attorney General's Office issued an opinion in the appeal of In re: Kate Howard/University of Louisville Foundation, Inc., 16-ORD-189.

Kate Howard, with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, requested records on May 27 about expenditures from two funds since the start of 2010 from the University of Louisville Foundation.

On June 9, the foundation responded. It noted that the request was not received until May 31; Beshear noted that it was still seven days from the date of receipt until a response was made.

As with every Open Records request, the agency has three days to respond, even if the response is asking for more time to fulfill the request, and must be accompanied by proper explanations, per KRS 61.880(1).

Howard appealed on June 16. She argued that almost no records were provided, and even if there were laws in place to protect privacy, the names and identifiers could be redacted.

The foundation responded multiple times and since there was no evidence that disbursements were made from one of the accounts. Beshear's office said it cannot determine the truthfulness of that claim from either side.

The foundation also said it did not have any further records in regard to the second account and directed Howard to the proper agency to obtain more records.

With the foundation fulfilling its obligations under the act to inform of the proper custodian of records an agency does not have, and providing what it does have, it did not substantively violate the Open Records act, but did merely by taking longer to respond than the law allows.

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