Attorney General: Governor's policy on charging for records violates spirit of open records law

In January, Attorney General Roy Cooper wrote Gov. Pat McCrory a letter indicating that the governor's office practice of charging for public records requests that take more than 30 minutes violates the spirit of the N.C. Open Records Law. Cooper's letter became public on Friday. 

At issue is the policy that the governor’s office put out last year instructing all executive agencies to charge a “special service charge” for any records request that takes more than 30 minutes to fulfill. The law allows special charges for requests that take extraordinary staff resources or technology to respond to. The question is whether 30 minutes is enough time to trigger that portion of the law. No time limit is set in the general statutes. 

Cooper’s letter indicates that other government agencies in the state have followed the lead of the governor’s office in charging special fees for these kinds of requests. 

McCrory’s general counsel, Bob Stephens, responded that the law allows special surcharges and that he does not believe they violate the spirit or intent of the public records law. Read the News & Observer’s coverage here