This is not the best response to an open records request in 2009, but it is a fine response.
Jim Adams is running against B.J. Roberts in the November 3 elections in Virginia. Adams is a former Sheriff’s Office lieutenant colonel who used to work for Roberts and who nows want that seat. In August, Adams asked the office for public records. The records Adams wants would provide information about:
- Roberts’ travel expenses
- The cost of new cars for the Sheriff’s Office
- The cost of producing the office’s 2009 annual report
- The cost of hiring Roberts’ new executive assistant.
- Any complaints filed against the Sheriff’s Office.
15 days later (10 days after the statutory allowance) the request was denied.
Why? Because the written request did not cite the number of the Virginia FOIA code. Instead, the written request just said that the records were requested “pursuant to the state open records act.”
According to this newspaper’s account, “Nuckolls denied the request, saying there was no such thing as the state open records act.”
NOTE: I thought it would be worthwhile to write to Sheriff Roberts to see if he would give me the documents, so I’ve done that. He could deny me the documents because I’m not a resident of Virginia. I asked him to provide me the documents (as outlined above) just because they are public documents and because people in his jurisdiction would like them, leaving aside whatever reasons he or his taxpayer-funded attorney might provide as a reason not to release the material.