RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Attorneys for WBTV filed a motion to intervene in a public records lawsuit filed against Governor Pat McCrory and the heads of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and North Carolina State Highway Patrol on Friday.
The motion asks a judge to allow WBTV to add themselves as a second plaintiff in the case. The original lawsuit was filed by Real Facts NC, a liberal political advocacy group.
WBTV is not affiliated with Real Facts NC in any way but chose to file a motion to intervene in this lawsuit because it presented an opportunity for judicial economy with one judge hearing public records claims from two different organizations at the same time.
The records sought by Real Facts NC are nearly identical to records requested by WBTV nearly a year ago and both organizations have received the same response from McCrory's office regarding redactions made to the Governor's calendar entries.
"The chronology included in Exhibit A reveals the necessity of this motion because the Public Records requested by WBTV, and the defendants' responses, are nearly identical to the requests lodged by Real Facts NC and the responses to them," the motion to intervene said.
According to a draft complaint attached to the motion to intervene show WBTV requested certain travel and reimbursement records from the North Carolina Highway Patrol in early January 2016. That same day, the draft complaint said, WBTV also requested certain flight records and all entries in McCrory's calendar between January 5, 2013 and December 31, 2014.
Documents attached to the draft complaint show a public information officer for NCSHP acknowledged the request for WBTV and, in a subsequent conversation, promised to provide redacted copies of records responsive to the request. WBTV has not received any records from NCSHP responsive to its January 2016 request.
The Governor's Office did provide flight records and calendar entries in response to WBTV's request but many entries on McCrory's calendar were redacted.
In correspondence attached to the draft complaint, attorneys in the Governor's Office say the North Carolina Public Records Act allows entries on McCrory's calendar to be redacted if they are personal or political.
Attorneys for WBTV have disputed the assertion that the law allows entries of political events on McCrory's publicly-maintained calendar to be redacted.
According to the motion to intervene, attorneys for McCrory object to WBTV's motion to intervene. Attorneys for Real Facts NC do not.
If WBTV's motion to intervene is granted, it will be the third legal complaint filed by a media outlet or group of media outlets against the McCrory administration challenging its withholding of government records.