COLUMBUS, Ohio - A bogus public records request from the state's Republican Party has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann said Thursday.
The request was made by GOP operative Jennifer Thrasher. She asked for approximately 21,000 documents, six months of e-mails between the offices of Dann, Gov. Ted Strickland, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Treasurer Richard Cordray. Republicans had criticized Dann for taking too long to comply with the request.
"On this request alone, my staff has spent hundreds of hours retrieving, reviewing, copying and transmitting thousands of documents, even though the request submitted to us was so overly broad that it was not a legitimate request," said Dann, a first-term Democrat. "The requestor rejected every attempt we made to work with her to narrow it so that it complied with the letter and the spirit of the law.
"Now we've learned that we were forced tos pend a considerable amount of time and effort simply because the Republican Party decided to pervert the purpose of the Sunshine Laws. It's not only ludicrous, it's shameful and they should be held accountable for their actions. After 16 years of operating Ohio government in the shadows, how in the world could the Republican Party have the temerity to 'test' the new administration."
The Republican Party called it a "public accountability project." Dann spokesman Leo Jennings III told the Columbus Dispatch that Dann will continue to to satisfy the request.
"For them to come out and admit it was a bogus request -- it was not seeking information but was a test -- that's a waste of taxpayer money, and they need to answer to the people on that," Jennings said.
Dann has already given Thrasher 7,000 documents and is reviewing 14,000 more.
"Because of the investigative nature of the work my office does, we are forced to review each and every document to ensure that it does not contain information that would jeopardize a criminal or civil investigation, compromise a court proceeding, or violate the attorney-client privilege," Dann said.
"That means that each e-mail or other type of correspondence she asked for has to be examined by the staff of our public records section, the attorneys involved in cases referenced in the documents, as well as, in some cases, investigators at (the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation)."