RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory’s office responded to what he called a “frivolous” lawsuit filed against him today by the News and Observer, the Charlotte Observer, Capital Broadcasting (WRAL), the Southern Environmental Law Center, and N.C. Policy Watch, among other plaintiffs.
In a statement issued by his office, McCrory called transparency important but said that “some members of the media and political organizations are exploiting the public records law with frivolous and duplicative records requests that gum up the day-to-day operations of state government.”
The lawsuit, filed midday Tuesday, claims that the governor’s office and cabinet agencies violated North Carolina public records law “regularly and repeatedly” by ignoring requests, delaying responses and charging unlawful fees. The plaintiffs claim that McCrory and his agencies are “avoiding or circumventing the public records law and discouraging or intimidating public records requesters.”
The governor’s statement, signed by communications staffer Rick Martinez, says that his administration has received more than 22,000 records requests since taking office.
“One advocacy group’s records request was so broad, it produced more than 5 million emails after the computer search was halted after 6 days. The narrowed search, now six days old, is expected to return approximately 1 million emails that must be individually reviewed to protect legally confidential information and the privacy of our citizens,” the statement said.
McCrory’s statement also says that the administration has spent millions of dollars on a new system to archive government employee emails, and says that the lawsuit is “an attempt to tie up state personnel and resources that should be spent serving the people of North Carolina.”