(CN) – Driver licensing officials cannot stop the public from seeing allegations that they took bribes or used state resources to drink, take drugs and engage in sexual acts, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled.
The allegations were collected through a joint investigation of the Kentucky Department of Vehicle Registration’s driver licensing division by the FBI, Kentucky Attorney General’s office and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Several Transportation cabinet officials were fired or resigned after the probe uncovered allegations of taking money to erase traffic offenses and wrongfully awarding government contracts in exchange for money and tickets to Wildcats games at the University of Kentucky.
In separate actions, two men anonymously sued Attorney General Jack Conway to prevent disclosure of the investigation under the Kentucky Open Records Act. One of the men is a transportation official who retired amid the scandal, and the other is a lobbyist who was business partners with the official.
The men claimed their personal privacy would be violated if the investigation materials were released to reporter Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Loftus applied to review the records after the unnamed official was appointed by the governor to the Board of Claims and the Crime Victims Compensation Board.
The trial court ruled that the records should be made public, and Judge Glenn Acree upheld the decision.
“While these records arguably contain information of a private nature concerning the appellants, the public’s interest in inspection greatly outweighs any privacy interest that may exist,” Acree ruled.
Any personal information that could lead to identity theft has been redacted from the file, which alleges that the anonymous official awarded government contracts to the lobbyist, that the official misused government time, property and funds, and that the official sexual harassed at least one government employee.