Healey: Governor not subject to public records law

Rejects Boston Globe request for documents

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY  ruled on Friday that the office of the governor is not subject to the Massachusetts public records law, confirming the long-standing position of Gov. Charlie Baker and his predecessors.

“We conclude that documents in the possession of the governor or the governor’s office are not records that must be disclosed under the Public Records Law,” assistant attorney general Jonathan Sclarsic wrote to Rebecca Murray, the supervisor of public records in the secretary of state’s office.

The case was prompted by Boston Globe reporter Laura Krantz’s February request of Baker for records related to calls from constituents.

Responding with boiler-plate language that has been used by governors at least as far back as Paul Cellucci, Baker’s deputy chief legal counsel refused to produce the records.

Citing the 1997 Lambert ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court as the basis for the refusal, Cathy Judd-Stein told the reporter that the governor’s office is not one of the offices enumerated in the public records law, and therefore is not covered by it.

“Notwithstanding Lambert,” she continued, “it is the voluntary practice of the office to consider and to respond to requests on a case-by-case basis.”-

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Krantz appealed to Murray, who then asked Judd-Stein for more information to justify withholding the records, but Judd-Stein refused.  Murray referred the case to the attorney general’s office for enforcement.

The Legislature recently created a special commission to examine the constitutionality and practicality of subjecting the governor’s office, the Legislature, and the judiciary to the public records law.