Mass. AG Healey directed to revise response to ‘copycat’ weapon ban information request
By Evan Lips | September 21, 2016, 16:50 EST
BOSTON — A Holden resident, stonewalled last month by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office when she rejected his public records request for documents and records that may shed light on how Healey arrived at her “copycat” assault weapons ban decision, recently scored a victory in his appeal efforts.
According to a Sept. 16 letter from Shawn A. Williams, Secretary of State William Galvin’s supervisor of records, David Reinhart’s appeal resulted in Galvin’s office contacting Healey’s office — and Healey staffers agreeing to “review Mr. Reinhart’s request and provide a revised response.”
Reinhart had originally requested, in writing, “all records concerning the development and implementation” of Healey’s July 20 directive, including “working papers, drafts, minutes of meetings, records of conversations in person or by telephone with other persons, emails between you, your staff and other individuals.”
What Reinhart received in response was 63 pages of materials he said had nothing to do with his request, including not only a transcript of Healey’s July 20 press conference, but also a DVD copy of the event.
In explaining the office’s decision to withhold information relevant to Reinhart’s request, Assistant Attorney General Lorraine A.G. Tarrow cited several exemptions, such as a claim that Reinhart was not allowed to see “materials that possess a deliberative or policy-making character and relate to an ongoing deliberative process.” Tarrow also pointed to “investigatory materials or techniques necessarily compiled out of the public view, the disclosure of which would so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest.”
Additionally, Tarrow cited “records relating to the security or safety of persons or buildings within the commonwealth, where public safety is likely to be jeopardized.”
Reinhart, in response, vowed to appeal, citing among other points the fact that the deliberative process had obviously ended once Healey made her July 20 announcement.
Galvin’s office, however, appears to have sided with Reinhart.
Emily Snyder, a spokeswoman for Healey, said Wednesday that the directive from Williams did not equate to an “order” and noted that the attorney general’s office has begun the process of revising its response to Reinhart’s request.
In his letter to Tarrow, Williams wrote that he considers Reinhart’s appeal to be “closed with the proviso that the AGO provide a revised response to his request, prepared in a manner consistent with this order, the public records law and its regulations.”
Williams’ letter does not list or detail which public records laws Healey’s office violated in their response to Reinhart’s information request, but Williams did request a copy of the revised package Reinhart can expect to receive from Healey.
On Wednesday Reinhart told the New Boston Post he is happy with the decision.
“While I am gratified that the Secretary of State’s Public Records Division has support my appeal on the ‘deliberative’ exemption, I believe it will be necessary to continue to chip away at the remaining reasons,” Reinhart said in an email. “For example, according to the FBI between 2010-2014 far more people were killed with knives, blunt instruments, feet and fists than by rifles of any kind, so why the public safety exemption?”
Read a copy of the order:
UPDATED 11:45 p.m. — This story has been updated to include a statement from the attorney general’s office and to more accurately describe the nature of the public information request.