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Politics & Government

Gov. Carney defends shielding Rodney Square emails from public in AG filing

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Gov. John Carney is fighting to keep portions of his emails that discuss rerouting buses from Rodney Square in Wilmington from being made public.

The Coalition to Keep Bus Service on Rodney Square is asking the Delaware attorney general to make redacted portions of Carney’s emails public. The group says Wilmington business leaders drove the decision to dismantle the Rodney Square transit hub. But Carney is asking the AG to uphold his use of executive privilege.

Ryan Tack-Hooper, legal director for ACLU Delaware, said executive privilege is designed to shield communications between the governor and his senior advisors - allowing for free exchange of opinions.

But Tack-Hooper said Carney has broadly applied executive privilege, blacking out names, dates and entire pages of information.

“It’s hard to understand why the privilege would apply to redacting say the name of the person that was giving the advice," he said. "That doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing that’s ordinarily covered by executive privilege. You know, dates on which things were sent.”

Tack-Hooper also said documents withheld under exceptions to open records law could be released if the public interest in having that information outweighs privilege.

“You know anytime that you create an exception to open government, the danger is that’s what’s being hidden is something that’s just embarrassing rather than something helpful for effective government,” he said.

Tack-Hooper adds a favorable ruling by the AG doesn’t guarantee the coalition will get the documents it’s looking for. He said it still might have to go to court to get them.

Carney has said he dismantled the transit center at Rodney Square because of safety and congestion problems. But earlier this year, he acknowleged discussions with the business community about bus stops at Rodney Square.

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