Iowa governor sued over open case requests / Public Information Service


Gov. Kim Reynolds is accused of breaking Iowa laws on open cases in a lawsuit filed this week.

The suit, filed by the ACLU, includes watchdogs and the media as complainants. Over the past year and a half, they say, Reynolds’ office has ignored or refused to comply with their demands regarding COVID-19 actions and other public policy matters.

Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU Iowa legal director, said that the need for elected officials to honor these demands is an essential function of democracy.

“Without access to information on what the government is doing on behalf of the people who put these elected officials in place,” she said, “we really don’t have the checks and balances in place that we need, in order to maintain our democratic governance system.

One of the files sought relates to videos Reynolds may have recorded for workers at meat packing plants as COVID-19 spread through these facilities. Another plaintiff wants information on members of the Iowa State Patrol sent to the US border with Mexico. Reynolds’ office did not respond to a request for comment before the deadline.

Randy Evans, Executive Director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, said Reynolds’ disrespect was a break with former Hawkeye state governors.

“This was one of the most significant periods in Iowa history,” he said, “but the governor and his staff have deprived the citizens of Iowa of documents and information that ‘they have the right to receive “.

He said these records are crucial in helping voters assess the governor’s performance in running the state through a public health crisis and heightened political tensions. The lawsuit, filed in Polk County District Court on Thursday, seeks an order finding Reynolds violated state law, hoping to compel her to hand over the requested information.

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