Opinion Columns & Blogs

Expert questions K-State’s redactions of e-mails

An open-records expert questions Kansas State University’s redaction of nearly all the content in e-mails between state budget director Shawn Sullivan and one of its employees, Kent Glasscock. The Eagle and the Topeka Capital-Journal filed open-records requests for the e-mails after The Eagle obtained an e-mail about the state budget that Sullivan sent from his private e-mail account to Glasscock and several others, including two lobbyists. Though it could have released the e-mails without any redactions, K-State cited an exemption in the Kansas Open Records Act that allows records in which “opinions are expressed or policies or actions are proposed” to be protected from disclosure. Media attorney Mike Merriam told the Capital-Journal that this exception was intended to apply to internal deliberative processes by a public agency. “The key word in that sentence is ‘internal,’ ” Merriam said. “You don’t have an internal deliberative process when you’re communicating with persons who are not members of that agency.” – Phillip Brownlee