The News and Observer is reporting that the McCrory administration is charging for public records, with requests for records generating bills of hundreds of dollars for electronic materials provided free by the previous administration. Story here.
McCrory's staff has interpreted a one-sentence clause in North Carolina's public records law as providing broad authority to assess a "special service charge" on any records request taking more than 30 minutes for an employee to process. Invoices totaling hundreds of dollars have also been assessed for requests for digital copies of emails that have routinely been produced by past administrations without charge.
The fees appear to run contrary to the primary principle expressed in North Carolina's public records law, which says government documents "are the property of the people" and that copies should be provided "as promptly as possible" at "free or at minimal cost."
Remember candidate McCrory's promise about transparency if he were elected? The article notes that lawyers for media outlets hit with the charges have advised them that the charges are likely illegal and to pay them only under protest.
I also wonder if Civitas, the Pope Foundation and the Koch organizations have to go through the same procedures and pay the same fees for records request as the general public or if our Budget Director Pope just email what they need right from his desk. It is a valid question for reporters to pursue - although Pope resigned as the head of his foundations when assuming his role in McCrory's administration, he still has attended Koch strategy meetings, for example.