WBTV files lawsuit to obtain Cooper travel records

Governor, Highway Patrol sued over travel records

RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - WBTV has filed a new lawsuit seeking records related to two trips Governor Roy Cooper took last year for political fundraisers in New York City.

The lawsuit, which names Cooper, NC Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks and Colonel Glenn McNeill, commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, was filed Friday in Wake County Superior Court and is the latest step in a months-long investigation by the station to determine how Cooper traveled to New York.

According to the lawsuit, a reporter at WBTV first requested records related to Cooper’s travel for the two trips from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol on July 29, 2019.

Related: Cooper, Highway Patrol refuse to provide answers, documents about out of state travel

The NCSHP responded by producing seven pages of records a few days later, on August 1, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said a reporter at the station then submitted a second request for additional records related to that trip in mid-October. That request, the lawsuit said, was denied.

“Plaintiff is informed and believes that the defendants have no intention of voluntarily producing any additional responsive documents to WBTV or providing lawful justification(s) for not producing responsive documents –including without limitation EP-25As – claiming N.C. Gen. STAT. 132-1.7(a) as exemption despite producing the same documents in response to virtually identical requests,” the lawsuit said, making reference to a separate public records case still pending in court in which WBTV sought travel records of then-Governor Pat McCrory.

In October, when first asked about his trips to New York, Cooper refused to answer the question but pledged to comply with the state’s public records laws.

“One thing I do know is that we’re going to comply with public records law,” Cooper said at the time. “That is for sure.”

A request for comment on the lawsuit sent to the Governor’s press office on Tuesday went unanswered.

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