State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2020-56
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
BRADY EAMES, Petitioner, v.
UTAH STATE TREASURER. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 20-56
By this appeal, Petitioners, Brady Eames, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, the Utah State Treasurer.
In an e-mail dated June 5, 2020, Mr. Eames made a request for records to Respondent pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Eames requested “any and all mandated written reports documenting any and all deposits and investments made by the State Treasurer” as filed with the State Money Management Council on or before January 31st and July 31st of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Mr. Eames also requested “any and all written reports filed by the State Treasurer” with the State Money Management Council which include: (1) The amount of public funds in the possession or control of the State Treasurer; (2) The details of the nature and extent of the deposit and investment of such public funds; and (3) The details of the rate of return on each deposit or investment of such public funds. Additionally, Mr. Eames asked for an expedited response and a fee waiver because the records “primarily benefits the public of Logan City and Cache County.”
In a letter dated May 29, 2020, Respondent notified Mr. Eames that his request lacked sufficient specificity to provide responsive records. Mr. Eames appealed the denial to the Chief Administrative Officer. In a letter dated June 19, 2020, Kirt W. Slaugh, Chief Deputy State Treasurer, provided the last four Deposit and Investment Reports submitted by Respondent to the Money Management Council, and stated that additional reports have been archived and are available upon payment of a $118.00 fee.
Mr. Eames filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). On November 12, 2020, the Committee held a hearing during which the parties were allowed to participate electronically and present their arguments. After carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. A person making a request for a record shall submit to the governmental entity that retains the record a written request that contains a description of the record requested that identifies the record with reasonable specificity. Utah Code § 63G-2-204(1)(a)(ii). In response to a request for a record, a governmental entity is not required to compile, format, manipulate, package, summarize, or tailor information. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(b).
2. A governmental entity may charge a reasonable fee to cover the governmental entity’s actual cost of providing a record. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(1). A governmental entity is encourage to fulfill a record request without charge if it determines that: (1) Releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person; (2) The individual requesting the record is the subject of the record; or (3) The requester’s legal rights are directly implicated by the information in the record and the requester is impecunious. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4).
3. A person who believes that there has been an unreasonable denial of a fee waiver may appeal the denial in the same manner as a person appeals when inspection of a public record is denied. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(6)(a). The adjudicative body hearing the appeal shall review the fee waiver de novo, but shall review and consider the governmental entity’s denial of the fee waiver and any determination under -203(4). Utah Code § 63G-2-203(6)(b).
4. Respondent argued that Mr. Eames’ appeal should be denied because: (1) Respondent does not maintain the records in the format requested; (2) The request fails to identify the records with enough specificity to enable Respondent to ascertain what records are being requested; (3) Financial information regarding the PTIF is publicly available; and (4) The denial of Mr. Eames’ request for a fee waiver was not unreasonable because there is no public benefit, Mr. Eames is not the subject of the records, and Mr. Eames’ legal rights are not implicated by the records.
5. A review of Mr. Eames’ records request to Respondent shows that it is not reasonably specific as required by Utah Code § 63G-2-204(1)(a)(ii). The request is broad and requests that information be compiled and tailored by Respondent for Mr. Eames. Further, Respondent properly referred Mr. Eames to online resources and governmental entities that have the records. A review of Respondent’s denial of Mr. Eames’ request for a fee waiver shows that it was not an unreasonable denial. Accordingly, the Committee finds that Respondent properly responded to Mr. Eames’ records request and his appeal should be denied.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Brady Eames is hereby DENIED.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
A party to a proceeding before the Committee may seek judicial review in District Court of a Committee's Order by filing a petition for review of the Committee Order as provided in Utah Code § 63G-2-404. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(14). A petition for judicial review of a Committee Order "shall be filed no later than 30 days" after the date of the Committee Order. Utah Code § 63G-2-404(1)(a). The petition for judicial review must be a complaint which is governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and include the Committee as a necessary party and contain the required information listed in Subsection -404(2). Utah Code § 63G-2-404(1) & (2). The court shall make its decision de novo but shall allow introduction of evidence presented to the Committee, determine all questions of fact and law without a jury, and decide the issue at the earliest practical opportunity. Utah Code § 63G-2-404(6). In order to protect a parties’ rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(c), if the Committee orders the governmental entity to produce a record and no appeal is filed, the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and shall: (1) Produce the record; and (2) File a notice of compliance with the Committee. If the governmental entity ordered to produce a record fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Committee may do either or both of the following: (1) Impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance; or (2) Send written notice of the entity's noncompliance to the Governor. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(d)(i)(B). In imposing a civil penalty, the Committee shall consider the gravity and circumstances of the violation, including whether the failure to comply was due to neglect or was willful or intentional. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(d)(ii).
Entered this 23 day of November 2020
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Chair, State Records Committee
Page Last Updated November 23, 2020 .