DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office on Friday announced a new system for handling open record requests, a day after three media organizations filed a lawsuit that alleges she has repeatedly violated the state’s open records laws by ignoring requests for government records, some for more than a year.
Reynolds’ spokesman Alex Murphy sent an email to reporters Friday saying the coronavirus pandemic created increased records requests and they are still being processed.
“Due to this enhanced volume, we have revisited our open records process and have made changes to help efficiently complete requests,” he said.
Murphy said reporters with outstanding requests will be notified of their status.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is representing Laura Belin, who operates the liberal-leaning Bleeding Heartland blog; Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council; and Clark Kauffman, a reporter for the Iowa Capital Dispatch, in a lawsuit filed Thursday in state court.
The reporters say they have tried to get public records from Reynolds’ office starting as early as April 2020 without success despite waiting for months and in some cases, well over a year. Often, the governor’s office didn’t acknowledge the records requests or respond to inquiries.
Murphy said the governor’s office would not comment on the lawsuit.