AG’s Office Rules Form Letters Cannot Delay Open Records

Form letters are not the proper way to delay a response to an Open Records request in Kentucky. That’s the legal opinion of the attorney general’s office.

On April 4th, Thomas Clifford sought medical records relating to himself from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in Frankfort. The cabinet had three days to respond, but instead used a form letter to inform Clifford it would need more time because he had failed to submit a specific form required to obtain medical records.

Clifford appealed to the attorney general’s office, which agrees Clifford must submit the proper form.

But Attorney General Jack Conway is also chastising the cabinet for its continuing use of form letters to get around the three-day Open Records response rule. Conway says he doesn’t have the power to compel the cabinet to cease the practice, but the courts do “and in the face of a pattern of non-compliance, may well elect to do so.”

Any party aggrieved by the decision may appeal to circuit court.

Published by Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.