Ohio Gov. Kasich Can Withhold Threat Docs

     (CN) – Documented threats to Ohio’s governor are not public records that should be exposed to the media, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.
     The case stems from a records request Plunderbund Media made to Gov. John Kasich’s office in 2012, after his office refused to release his schedules, “claiming the governor was receiving ‘daily’ threats,” the political news organization says on its website.
     To verify Kasich’s claims, Plunderbund says it requested that the Ohio Department of Public Safety release records of any threats to Gov. John Kasich that had been investigated by the Highway Patrol.
     The department’s lawyers refused to produce even redacted records, citing the “security records” exemption to the Public Records Act.
     Plunderbund then asked the Ohio Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, arguing that the exemption applies to protecting a public office and deals with issues like blueprints of a building and the placement of cameras.
     The state countered that the “public office” includes the person who holds that office and would cover a sabotage or terrorist attack.
     The justices sided with the state, denying Plunderbund’s writ in an unsigned opinion.
     “Indeed , a public office cannot function without the employees and agents who work in that office, and records ‘directly used for protecting or maintaining the security of a public office’ must inevitably include those that are directly used for protecting and maintaining the security of the employees and other officers of that office,” the justices wrote.
     They cited the testimony of state officials, one of whom stated that “each threat and investigation thereof potentially reveals security and safety violations.”
     Another official testified that revealing “even seemingly minor or insignificant pieces of information” has the potential to “reveal patterns, techniques or information” regarding security.
     The justices added that they did not need to view the records in camera to determine that they should be protected.
     “The records at issue involve direct threats against the highest official in the executive branch of Ohio government. Information included in these threats, according to the affidavits provided, is used for protecting and maintaining the security of the governor and his staff and family and for maintaining the secure functioning of the governor’s office. The records are therefore ‘security records’ and exempt from disclosure under (the law),” they wrote.
     In a statement on its website, Plunderbund expressed disappointment in the decision.
     “The court has effectively granted carte blanche to anyone in government to hide virtually any document by simply claiming it is a ‘security document’ just like the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Public Safety have done with the records we requested and were denied,” the publication said.

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