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Court: Kentucky Government Withheld Cheney Expenses

Gov. Ernie Fletcher and state police improperly withheld expense records for services provided when Vice President Dick Cheney was briefly in the state en route to an Indiana fundraiser, a judge ruled Monday.

The administration had invoked a new exception to the Kentucky Open Records Law that allows governments to keep some records secret if they can show their disclosure would pose a "reasonable likelihood" of being useful for plotting a terrorist attack.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden ruled the administration had shown no such likelihood.

On March 28, Cheney flew in and out of Louisville, where he was driven across the Ohio River into southern Indiana to attend a political fundraising event. The state police helped provide some security, traffic control and other services.

The Associated Press requested overtime, expense and other records. Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office, which reviews initial appeals of records decisions, sided with Fletcher.

But Crittenden said the threshold standard in the law had not been met.

"There is little 'reasonable likelihood' that the numbers of Kentucky State Police assigned in this situation or the amount of tax dollars expended will expose a vulnerability in the security measures taken when the vice president of the United States travels from Louisville International Airport to southern Indiana," Crittenden wrote.

Calls seeking comment from Fletcher's office were not immediately returned. Fletcher could ask the Court of Appeals to review the ruling.

Hank Ackerman, Louisville bureau chief for The Associated Press, said: "We think this ruling is important in upholding the provisions of the Kentucky Open Records Act."