Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration has agreed to settle public records lawsuits filed by two state cabinets against the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The settlements mark the end of a legal struggle that began in November 2017, when KyCIR requested six years of sexual harassment complaints through Kentucky’s Open Records Act, which gives the public the right to access records kept by the state government.
Under the previous administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, the Labor and Finance and Administration cabinets sought to keep sealed the names of state employees who were accused of sexual harassment in cases where an internal investigation didn’t substantiate the allegations. The terms of the settlement will require the state to pay KyCIR about $53,000 in legal fees and release the unredacted versions documents sought by KyCIR, according to KyCIR’s attorney Jon Fleischaker.
“The public has a right to know what their government is doing, and KyCIR will always fight for that right,” Louisville Public Media President Stephen George said in an email. “I applaud the Beshear administration’s acknowledgement of the transparency that state law requires.”
Louisville Public Media is the parent company of KyCIR. Most state agencies complied with KyCIR’s initial 2017 request for documents related to sexual harassment allegations against state employees, although the transparency of their responses varied.