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ADN joins suits over access to Miller's borough records

From David Hulen in Anchorage --

The ADN filed papers in Fairbanks Superior Court on Friday (additional document here ) to join a lawsuit filed earlier in the week by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that seeks to make public some personnel files of Senate candidate Joe Miller from his time working for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The Alaska Dispatch filed a separate lawsuit seeking similar material. The suits have been combined.

The ADN, and other Alaska and national news organizations and individuals, have asked for various borough documents concerning Miller’s employment history with the borough. Miller worked as a part-time borough attorney from 2002 to 2009. Among the records sought were details of his departure from the borough and records of any disciplinary matters or allegations of misuse of borough property.

The borough released a heavily redacted set of documents in July. (Three files: read them here, here and here) The public-records requests from various media are included.

The suits assert that certain personnel documents are public under Alaska public-records law. “The borough’s refusal to release the requested information constitutes both an interference to be informed and the electorate’s right to truthful and full disclosure of information relating to a political candidate,” wrote attorney John Burns in the News-Miner’s lawsuit.

Additional documents were released by the borough this week, including an Oct. 7 letter from assistant borough attorney Jill Dolan to an attorney for Miller anticipating the lawsuits and asking for Miller to sign a release. The letter also asks that Miller “retract and correct the repeated misrepresentations he has made regarding his records.”

Also released by the borough this week was a response from Miller attorney Thomas Van Flein on Monday, who argues release of the documents would violate the law. “In our review of the statute we were not able to find any Borough policy or ordinance that alters the law when an employee runs for office,” he wrote. He also wrote, “We have information that somone from within the Borough has been leaking information from the file. We will be subpoenaing witnesses to investigate this.”

In a letter to the borough attorney last week, Alaska Dispatch’s attorney, John McKay, argued that, “Our Supreme Court has noted on a number of occasions, in connection with the public’s right of access to information held by the government, that ‘applicants for high government positions expose their private lives to public scrutiny.’” The documents being sought, he wrote, relate to Miller’s performance as a government employee and not his private life.

Daily News editor Patrick Dougherty noted that the ADN began asking for Miller’s borough records in June.

"Mr. Miller seemed willing to have the records made public. Now the borough and Mr. Miller seem determined to keep them confidential. We believe that's contrary to Alaska law so we're asking the court to enforce the law and make these records public " he said.

Earlier:

> Media outlets sue Fairbanks borough to release Miller's employment records Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Oct.11

> Alaska Dispatch sues for release of Miller's records Alaska Dispatch, Oct. 11

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