From the Carroll County Comet:
Q: I requested a copy of the minutes from the auditor for the last two county council meetings. I was refused. The auditor said she doesn’t like to give them out until they are approved. Do you recommend a course of action for using this as a teachable moment?
A: You don’t have to wait for the approved version. Once a record is created by a government agency then it becomes a public record and is
available for copying and inspection unless there is an exception that allows it to be kept confidential. Awaiting approval isn’t an exception.
She can stamp the document as a “draft” or “Subject to approval,” but she shouldn’t be denying the request.
If you don’t want to wait on the draft of the minutes, you can check on the memoranda required to be kept during the meeting, which is also a public record subject to inspection and copying. The only hitch is that the memoranda may be a tape recording of the event rather than a written notes by the auditor.
But the memoranda should be available the next business day after a night meeting unless the auditor is actually using the document at the time of request to draft the minutes.
Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at email@example.com or (317) 624-4427.