Kentucky attorney general says Kim Davis violated Open Records Act

Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, violated the state’s Open Records Act, the Kentucky attorney general’s office said Tuesday.

The Rowan County clerk violated the act by refusing to produce documents related to the gay marriage battle, the attorney general’s office said in an opinion.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit group, requested records between Davis and her attorneys, the religious advocacy group Liberty Counsel, on March 1.

Liberty Counsel refused to provide the documents, saying they are preliminary and private. Liberty Counsel represented Davis after she was sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

The Open Records Act provides for costs and attorney's fees to be awarded in some cases as well as up to $25 per day for each day the person is denied access to the record. Liberty Counsel can appeal the attorney general's opinion.

Liberty Counsel has not decided whether to challenge the attorney general’s ruling, the group’s founder and chairman Mat Staver said. Liberty Counsel has provided its services for free, charging nothing to Davis or Rowan County, Staver said.

"There's nothing to reveal here," Staver said.

The attorney general's office asked to privately review the documents so it could decide whether the exemptions cited are relevant but said Liberty Counsel refused to produce most of the documents even for a private review.

"An agency cannot benefit from intentionally frustrating the attorney general's review of an open records request. Such result would subvert the General Assembly's intent behind providing review by the attorney general," Assistant Attorney General Matt Jones wrote in the office's opinion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.