Let's talk about how Gov. Laura Kelly's administration handles open records requests. In particular, when the records involve private companies. Because I've talked to *a lot* of lawyers about this now, and they have real concerns. #ksleg
Since this summer, a few of my KORA requests have been delayed weeks or months while Kansas waited on private companies to redact the documents that I had asked for. #ksleg
This includes a few of the wealthiest companies on the Fortune 500. And it includes an auditor that Kansas hired to hold one of those companies accountable....
I wrote before about that auditor, PillarRx. KS paid PillarRx $100k to audit $160m in drug spending that involves CVS. CVS wrote the conclusion's to PillarRx's audit....
That flabbergasted experts, who say the audit does not hold CVS accountable and scrutinize it the way KS and every other major employer out there needs to scrutinize its pharmacy benefit managers. Read that story here: kcur.org/news/2021-10-0…
I was able to write the story above because I got a copy of the audit. Large swaths of the audit had been redacted to prevent me from reading it, but many of the redactions were botched, so I was able to read a lot of the redacted stuff...
But why was so much redacted in the first place? I showed the report to several independent lawyers, who looked at what the redactions had tried to hide, and they all assured me this was stuff that was *clearly* public information. NOT "trade secrets," as KS claimed...
So what the heck happened? Why would Kansas do this? We decided to do an open records request to read the emails between PillarRx and Kansas regarding my original open records request... #ksleg
And... wow. While discussing how much of the report to give me, the emails show a lawyer for the state expressed concerns that nothing in the document qualifies for redaction under KS law. (Because remember -- KS is not allowed to just redact whatever the heck it wants) ...
And yet, the copy I received was redacted. KS didn't redact it. It let PillarRx do the redactions. And KS signed off on the redactions despite harboring concerns that the content didn't appear to qualify for redaction. #ksleg ...
"A private company asked Kansas to hide public information, so the state obliged" | This is my story today about what I learned from the emails between PillarRx & KS lawyers in the weeks after I asked Kansas to show me the audit: kcur.org/news/2021-11-1… #ksleg
Kansas *will not* talk to me about how it handled my open records request. It has publicly said that it followed standard procedures for handling my open records request. Read about that here: kcur.org/news/2021-10-1… #ksleg ...
But if this is Kansas' standard procedure, that raises even more questions. I've contacted Gov. Kelly's office for an interview about this 5 times either with her or her staff. They won't give me an interview at this time. They won't tell me what they mean by "at this time." ...
I've spoken to about a dozen lawyers across the country who are absolute pros at trade secret & antitrust law, open records law, health care law (b/c this involves pharmaceutical stuff) -- they all tell me, the way KS has handled this is very concerning ....
And here's why *everyone* should worry -- not just if you live in KS & not just if you want to know more about Kansas' pharmaceutical spending, like I do: Governments across the US are normalizing the idea that companies get a huge say over our access to public records. #ksleg ..
I only included a handful of the examples in my story -- from Utah, Colorado & Virginia -- but there are more. One county wouldn't show its manuals for medical care and such because the papers were privately copyrighted: kcur.org/news/2021-11-1…
Groups like @BrechnerCenter @NFOIC & @rcfp have serious concerns. The @rcfp is helping the @Oregonian & @rogoway in one case -- a city that promised Google to fight open records requests & is hiding records that show Google's water use: oregonlive.com/silicon-forest…
.@franklomonte at @BrechnerCenter fears corporations have so much lobbying sway, that stopping this trend is difficult. "What's going to need to happen is the general public is just going to have to get mad ... about what businesses are up to."
Thanks for reading this 🧵. Please share your redaction stories. Share them with groups like @NFOIC, @rcfp & @BrechnerCenter, too. Again, here's the link to today's story: A private company asked Kansas to hide public information, so the state obliged | kcur.org/news/2021-11-1…

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More from @Celia_LJ

1 Oct
*Takes deep breath* Ok, time to talk about pharmacy benefit management. I know this sounds boring, but it is *anything but that.* And if you're a state employee, you'll definitely want to know what we learned about your prescription drug plan. So follow this🧵 #ksleg
What we're talking about here are a kind of middlemen who do the paperwork when you pick up your medications. Look at your health insurance card. You'll see your pharmacy benefit manager listed somewhere. Maybe it's CVS or OptumRx or Express Scripts, for example.
I know it seems like "middlemen" can't be too important, but these companies can make more money in a single year than your insurance company does or even the company that makes the drugs. That's why some states (and Congress) have been taking a much harder look at the middlemen.
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