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In my Sunday column this week, I write about how the Idaho Public Records Act, in Idaho Code Section 74-102, has a strong presumption of openness. “Every person has a right to examine and take a copy of any public record of this state,” the law says, “and there is a presumption that all public records in Idaho are open at all reasonable times for inspection except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.”

That’s why when a public agency denies a request for public records, it has to cite the specific statutory exemption from disclosure for that particular record.

Yet, in the current public records lawsuit between the Idaho Press Club and Ada County, we’ve learned that the state’s largest county believes a series of sweeping, blanket privileges — for privacy, attorney-client privilege and a “deliberative process” privilege — outweigh the entire law. 

Full disclosure here: I’m the president of the Idaho Press Club. That’s why I’ve not been the one writing our news articles about this lawsuit. And the Press Club’s attorneys, in their own legal filings, have strongly disagreed with the county’s argument, which is a new one on me in my 33 years as a reporter in Idaho.

You can read my full column here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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