Public Has No Right to Governor's Emails to Lawmakers, Rules Delaware Judge

August 9, 2017

A Delaware Superior Court judge has ruled that the state's highest executive has broad authority to shield his emails from public view.

Judge Ferris Wharton's decision, announced Tuesday, deals a blow to former state treasurer Chip Flowers, who had sued former Gov. Jack Markell for violating the Delaware Freedom of Information Act.

"That just sets the FOIA statute back by decades," Flowers said Tuesday, adding that he is considering an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, said Tuesday that Wharton's ruling "exposes a huge hole in the FOIA process that legitimizes an unacceptable workaround of the original intent of the law."

That "workaround" would allow a governor to avoid public scrutiny of email simply by copying a state lawmaker or legislative aide on the note.

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