The N.C. Republican Party has threatened to seek a court order to force Attorney General Roy Cooper to deliver on a request for 14 years of public records.
It’s been 36 days since the N.C. GOP asked for thousands of records dating back to when Cooper became Attorney General in 2001. The party is calling him “Stonewall Cooper,” saying it has not received a single document from his office or any response beyond the acknowledgment of the requests.
In five detailed requests, one for each day of “Sunshine Week,” the Republican Party asked for every email and correspondence Cooper and his senior staff sent or received in the past 14 years. It also asked for every Twitter and Facebook message, official appointment, expense report, official opinion and internal memo from the Attorney General’s office since 2001.
In addition, the party requested details about the operations of the N.C. Department of Justice, the State Bureau of Investigation and the State Crime Lab during the past 14 years.
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N.C. GOP Executive Director Todd Poole sent a letter to Cooper on Tuesday saying, “It is our belief that 36 days constitutes a reasonable amount of time to receive additional response and demand that you comply with the law.”
Poole writes that if the party does not start receiving the documents it requested within one week, the party “will have no choice but to seek a court order to compel compliance.”
Additionally, Poole asks if Cooper intends to provide the requested records; when the office will begin delivering the records; and if there will be a cost for them.
Cooper publicly stated last month that the growing trend in state government to charge for public records requests is “not good customer service.”
The Attorney General’s office has not said how it will respond to the request, or how much staff time and money it will take to comply. On Tuesday, spokeswoman Noelle Talley said only, “We’re in the process of compiling records in response to the request and expect to produce them in a timely manner.”
Though he has not officially entered the race, Cooper, a Democrat, is widely expected to run against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016. State Democrat Party spokesman Ford Porter said the GOP records request is a political stunt designed to deflect attention away from McCrory’s poor performance with public records requests.
“Since entering office, Governor McCrory has done everything in his power to hide public records from those seeking them – even charging unprecedented fees for the release of information,” Porter said in an email. “Today, the governor’s office still has yet to release records requested back in 2013. This stunt by the governor’s campaign team is more than just hypocritical – it’s completely preposterous – and should really make voters take a hard look at this governor’s values.”
Poole said the party requested the records because the public has the right to know what its Attorney General has been doing while in office. He added in a press release Monday that by letting this many days go by without a response indicated that Cooper is trying to hide something.