RALEIGH – North Carolina House Representative Beverly Boswell has agreed to release un-redacted public records of her office correspondence in response to a public records lawsuit filed by a Kitty Hawk resident and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. Rep. Boswell had initially refused to release any public records and later released documents that concealed the identity of everyone her office communicated with on matters of public interest
The full release comes more than a year after one of her constituents, Craig Merrill, first asked for public records of phone and email correspondence between her office and the residents and businesses she represents in North Carolina House District 6, which includes parts of Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, and Washington counties. After Boswell refused, the ACLU of North Carolina filed a public records lawsuit on behalf of Merrill in January.
“We are glad that Representative Boswell finally agreed to do the right thing and stop hiding who she was communicating with about the public’s business,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “North Carolinians deserve transparency from their elected officials – and the law requires it.”
In a motion for summary judgment filed last month, the ACLU said that there was no legal justification for Rep. Boswell to conceal who she and her office were corresponding with on matters related to her work as a public official on issues including the Outer Banks plastic bag ban. Many of the documents Rep. Boswell provided contain the following message: “Email correspondence to and from this address is subject to North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.”
“The public deserves to know how our representatives are conducting business on our behalf so that we can hold them accountable,” Merrill said. “I am glad my representative has finally agreed to follow the law, but it never should have taken more than a year and a lawsuit for her to do the right thing and be open about her work with a constituent.”