JUDGE: Commission Application Are Open Records

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Candidates’ applications for two Saline County Commission openings filled last year by Gov. Sam Brownback are not exempt from the Kansas open records law, a judge has ruled.

Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty sided with The Salina Journal and The Associated Press in ordering the disclosure of information on more than two dozen applicants for newly created Saline County Commission seats.

Saline County residents voted in November 2014 to expand the commission from three to five members. The AP and the newspaper argued that applicants’ names and other details are public information, but Brownback’s office said they were personnel records. The AP and the newspaper filed a lawsuit seeking the information in January.

The judge denied the media request for attorney’s fees after finding that the state’s refusal to disclose the records was done in good faith and with a reasonable basis. Crotty also noted that while the applications did not qualify for the exemption under the open records law, some of the personal information, such as Social Security numbers, would need to be redacted.

The governor’s office said it does not comment on matters under litigation.

Media attorney Nathaniel Berg said the governor’s attorneys had indicated they planned to appeal an earlier ruling in September in which Crotty denied the state’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit and enter a judgment in their favor.

“I certainly think it is a victory for the Kansas Open Records Act and the intent of the Legislature had when they drafted it,” Berg said of the ruling.