For the last nine months, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has been mired in a public-records battle with the University of Louisville over a high-profile report on the school’s financial controls.
Our newsroom has fought for the release of documents related to school-finance matters because we believe information about the financial health of a public university is in the public’s interest.
Today our attorney, Victor Maddox, filed a civil lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court against the University of Louisville. We are seeking a declaration that the school willfully withheld records in violation of the law, and an injunction ordering it to turn over documents.
The public institution has repeatedly denied, delayed or failed to release materials that we believe are responsive to our public records requests. (Read our coverage of the issue)
We previously appealed U of L’s records denials to Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, which in late August rendered a decision that the university had violated aspects of the public record law. (Read Conway’s decision)
Since then, our attempts to garner documents related to the auditing firm’s report and investigation have been largely fruitless.
The university did release its own report, detailing the changes it intended to make regarding its financial oversight in July. But that report failed to identify any of the actual issues that existed or were highlighted by an outside auditing firm hired. U of L paid Strothman and Company more than $160,000 for the review and authorized an additional $100,000 for the company’s help in implementing recommendations.
Without examining the records that went into the creation of the final report, it is impossible to determine what deficiencies existed at the University of Louisville and whether the new measures will truly address them.
Today’s filing of a civil suit represents the next step in our effort to obtain documents that we believe should be made available to the public.
Disclosure: In October 2014, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $10,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation.