Senate Elections Chairs Demand Records from Board of Elections, AG Stein on Election Law Changes
State law requires executive branch agencies to turn over any and all documents upon request from legislature
Senators demand all communications regarding settlement between NCSBE and candidates, Dem lawyers, NC Democratic Party
Sen. Hise: “The Board must withdraw its collusive settlement deal that undoes ballot protections and provide full transparency by releasing all responsive documents”
Raleigh, N.C. — Senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Warren Daniel (R-Burke), and Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), who co-chair the Senate Elections Committee, demanded the N.C. State Board of Elections (NCSBE) and Attorney General Josh Stein turn over all communications surrounding their settlement with Gov. Roy Cooper’s former lawyer, Marc Elias.
Last week, the partisan Board of Elections and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein ambushed their co-defendants, the legislature, by “settling” a lawsuit filed by Gov. Cooper’s former lawyer, Marc Elias, to undo state laws guarding against absentee ballot fraud.
In a letter to the partisan NCSBE, Sens. Hise, Daniel, and Newton demanded they provide “copies of all communications” between the partisan NCSBE and the plaintiffs’ Democratic attorneys. The letter also demands “copies of all communications” between the partisan NCSBE and the N.C. Democratic Party and Democratic Party candidates.
All of the requested documents between defendants, plaintiffs, and their counsels are public records because attorney-client privilege does not exist between opposing parties of a lawsuit.
The senators also sent a similar demand to Attorney General Stein. All of the requested documents between the partisan Board of Elections and Attorney General Stein’s office are also public records because the partisan Board voted to waive privilege.
Damon Circosta, Chairman of the Board of Elections, said last week, “They [voters] deserve all of the facts when the impartiality of their election administration and security are questioned in the public sphere.”
Sen. Newton said, “If this collusive settlement was so noncontroversial, why did the partisan Board of Elections go to such lengths to keep it secret from legislators? They knew exactly what they were doing when they secretly decided to rewrite state election laws in the middle of the election.”
Sen. Hise said, “The partisan Board of Elections secretly negotiated with their allies on the ‘other side’ of a lawsuit to reach a settlement that undoes absentee ballot protection laws. The Board must withdraw its collusive settlement and provide full transparency by releasing all responsive documents.”
Sen. Daniel said, “This corrupt deal was secretly negotiated in the middle of an active election in which 200,000 votes have already been cast. The rules of the game should not be changed in the middle of an election. The full partisan Board must have an open hearing, including public comment, and withdraw its collusive settlement.”
About G.S. 120–19
G.S. 120–19 grants the legislature broad authority to access Executive Branch records. The statute says, “All officers, agents, agencies and departments of the State are required to give…upon request, all information and all data within their possession, or ascertainable from their records. This requirement is mandatory and shall include requests made by any individual member of the General Assembly.”