It is important for every state employee to understand what is happening in this Right to Know appeal of Simon Campbell v. Governor’s Office of Administration, OOR Docket # AP 2013-0859, and to understand their rights as third-parties in this matter.
FIRST, NO INFORMATION HAS YET BEEN RELEASED, AND THE OFFICE OF OPEN RECORDS HAS NOT ORDERED RELEASE OF ANY INFORMATION IN THIS CASE. AN EXTENSION HAS BEEN GRANTED AND NO FINAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN UNTIL AT LEAST JULY 15, 2013.
Here’s what happened, and here is some information that will be important to you if you decide you wish to personally participate in this matter.
Simon Campbell, of Stop Teacher’s Strikes, filed a Right to Know request with the Governor’s Office of Administration (“OA”). He asked for very specific information about state employees outlined at the bottom of this email. The Governor’s Office of Administration thoroughly examined the request and denied Mr. Campbell’s appeal. In short, they said the records aren’t public and, on your behalf, refused to release them.
As is his right, the requester appealed to the Office of Open Records, a quasi-judicial agency that considers appeals when an agency denies release of information.
On appeal, the Governor’s Office of Administration has the burden of proving that it properly withheld the information from public disclosure. It is vigorously defending the appeal on behalf of all employees.
OA is defending your rights as a whole group. However, if any one person wants to intervene in the process individually each person can do that. The OOR had been required to issue a decision by June 13, 2013. An extension has been granted by the Mr. Campbell and the OOR now plans to issue a decision on or before July 15, 2013. If you want to intervene, you must request permission by 5:00 on Friday, June 7, 2013 and send a copy of your request to OA and Mr. Campbell.
The Right-to-Know Law permits persons with a direct interest (that’s each of you) to seek to participate in appeals. However, the OOR may limit evidence that is cumulative, meaning if everybody says the same thing we only accept a certain amount of duplicative evidence.
If you want to submit information that details specific personal bases for withholding information, you can do that along with arguments supporting your position.
Here’s what Mr. Campbell wants to know about you on appeal:
1. The names of all employees under the jurisdiction of the Governor who had political committee contributions deducted and remitted from their paychecks in 2012, and the total amount of political committee contributions processed via payroll deduction for each employee in 2012.
2. The total amount of money received in 2012 by all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to reimburse the government for the cost of collecting and remitting political committee contributions.
3. For all employees under the jurisdiction of the Governor the total amount of Union dues collected and remitted via payroll deduction in 2012.
Keep in mind that both OA and the OOR are working very hard to ensure that any of your non-public information is protected from release.
With respect to direct interest requests, section 1101(c)(3) of the Right-to-Know Law requires that “Copies of the written request shall be sent to the agency and the requester.” Any employee who wishes to participate must send a request to the following by June 7, 2013:
Final Request to Participate - pdf
Request to File In Camera - pdf
Appeals Officer Contact Information: Angela Eveler, Esquire
400 North Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Governor’s Office of Administration Contact Information:
RTKL Appeal 2013-0859
Governor's Office of Administration
221 Finance Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Requester Contact Information: Simon Campbell