Tennessee open records advocates fear impact of court ruling

From commercialappeal.com: NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Transparency advocates are warning about the ramifications of a recent Tennessee appeals court ruling that “high government officials” can keep documents secret if they deem them part of their decision-making process.

The court upheld a lower court’s ruling that then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration was justified in denying the release of records on the basis that they were part of the “deliberative process” about how to deal with demonstrators encamped in the state Capitol in 2005 to protest cuts to TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program.


Frank Gibson, the founding director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the decision is curious because the documents sought by Davidson could have been blocked under other exemptions such as lawyer-client privilege that are already on the books.

TCOG is a nonprofit alliance of citizen, professional and media groups, including The Associated Press, committed to promoting government transparency.

“This will provide another vague excuse for some government officials to abuse the records law despite language in there that the privilege should apply in specific and narrow circumstances,” said Gibson, who now works as a lobbyist for the Tennessee Press Association.

Visit commercialappeal.com for more.

The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. –eds