Request for senators’ email denied

Iowa GOP chairman Danny Carroll made a public records’ request this morning (read all about it here). This afternoon’s response is below:

April 14, 2014

Mr. Danny Carroll (Sent via electronic mail)

Dear Mr. Carroll:

I am responding on behalf of the senators to whom you directed your request this morning for copies of “all of your e-mails and documents containing” certain words, phrases, and names in relation to matters currently being reviewed by the House and Senate Government Oversight Committees.   As authority for your request, you refer to the Iowa open records statute.  However, as a former member of the Iowa House of Representatives, I am sure you are aware that each house of the Iowa General Assembly has the power under Article III, Section 9, of the Iowa Constitution to determine its own rules of proceedings.  That prerogative overrides any conflicting provisions of the open records statute.  Both the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives have chosen to exercise this constitutional authority with respect to the release or retention of information generated or received in the ordinary course of legislative affairs.

In this instance, I regret to inform you that your request has been denied.  The type of records you have requested have not customarily been deemed public documents by the Senate, given that their release would almost certainly have a detrimental chilling effect on citizens’ constitutional rights and willingness to petition their elected officials.

Considerable public information is provided on the Iowa General Assembly’s web site, including but not limited to:  1) bill history, which provides the record of legislative events surrounding all legislation;  2) the text of the Senate and House Journals, which are the official record of legislative action;  3) the text of the introduced and reprinted versions of every bill and all amendments thereto;  4) the declarations of every registered lobbyist on every bill; and (5) video archives of all action on the Senate floor.  The above access includes all legislative information available to the public.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the number above.


Michael E. Marshall

Secretary of the Senate

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.