Governor Mary Fallin Tuesday released documents that an Oklahoma judge ruled previously are protected through a deliberative process privilege.
Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton last week refused to reconsider her earlier ruling, which upheld the decision by the governor to withhold certain emails. At issue are 31 documents about a 2011 decision involving Obamacare.
“I firmly believe and the court has affirmed that it is important to protect the legal right of governors to receive candid and private advice,” said Fallin. “However, I am committed to transparency. I have decided to waive the protection provided by the court so the public can understand the process that went into the policy decision not to implement an Obamacare exchange or Medicaid expansion, both of which would be unsustainable costs to the state and bad public policy.”
Swinton ruled earlier that the governor has a right to receive candid and private advice to foster informed and sound deliberations.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma challenged the governor’s decision in a lawsuit filed on behalf of The Lost Ogle, an Oklahoma City satirical website. It and several news organizations requested records from the governor’s office related to Fallin’s decision not to establish a health care exchange in Oklahoma and to reject expanding the Medicaid program as permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Fallin’s office in March 2013 released more than 51,000 pages of documents about her decision. She withheld 31 documents totaling 100 pages.
To date, Fallin has released more than 100,000 pages of documents in response to open records requests, more than all other Oklahoma governors combined in the history of the state.