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Media Outlets Sue McCrory For Public Records

North Carolina’s largest newspapers are among the media outlets and advocacy groups suing the McCrory administration for violating the state’s public records law.

That law requires the government to hand over most documents to citizens that request them—from e-mails to invoices.

Requests for records are a standard part of journalism investigations, but Raleigh News & Observer executive editor John Drescher argues a more fundamental purpose.

“Government needs to have a watchdog on it,” Drescher says. “Government operates better when there’s transparency, when the public can see what its government is doing.”

The News & Observer is among the outlets suing the McCrory administration for obstructing access to public records. Others include the Charlotte Observer, Raleigh TV stations WRAL and WNCN, and two advocacy groups—the Southern Environmental Law Center and the left-leaning NC Justice Center.

The lawsuit accuses the administration of holding onto records for more than a year after receiving requests for them and threatening to charge unnecessary fees.

In a statement released last night, the governor’s office says it has struggled to keep up with more than 22,000 public records request. The statement called the lawsuit “exploitation” by “liberal news media.”

In 2008, the newspapers joined a public records lawsuit with the conservative John Locke Foundation against Democratic governor Mike Easley.