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8/21/2018 House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan Pays $3,750 Fee
House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan will be delivering a personal check for $3,750 to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, to pay for the search, retrieval and delivery of all documents related to the spending of the Google Settlement Funds.

These documents were originally sought via an Access to Public Records Request on March 1, 2018, stating:

“Any and all documents, notes, memoranda, invoices, correspondence and records together with attachments, forwarded to or received from the state of Rhode Island, its agents, servants, departments or other agencies relating to the 2012 Google settlement, how it was spent, including current balances and documentation thereof.”

The Attorney General’s denial of the request responded, demanding a large fee:

“Using 200 hours as an estimate (this Office has already expended well over the one free hour of search and retrieval, see R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-4(b)), and using 5,000 documents produced as an estimate, search and retrieval will cost $3,750.00.  This estimate is conservative, and pre-payment is required prior to this Department engaging in search and retrieval.”

“I have spent the past five and a half months attempting to have the fee waived for the betterment of every Rhode Islander.  I believe it is a tactic to discourage individuals from learning the transaction details involved with the Google funds.  Although, paying this money is a hardship for me, I believe the people of Rhode Island have a right to know and understand the details and rationale behind the Attorney General’s spending of this enormous sum of money without any transparency or accountability,” stated Leader Morgan.

“Not only was the $3,750 fee a tactic to keep the documents from public scrutiny, I have been faced with other tactics. I appealed the fee based upon state law that states that members of the Finance committee are entitled to receive the documentation. Unfortunately, the appeal is made to the Attorney General and it was denied.”

“I was then forced to turn to the Superior Court for relief, under a law which gives the Court the ability to waive the fee.  To avoid cost, I appeared before the Court pro se and the Attorney General used his superior knowledge of the process to discourage me and delay the release of the documents.”

“In our most recent court appearance, the judge asked me to narrow my request.  Fearing that request would allow the Attorney General discretion over which documents to release, I have decided to pay the fee. The public deserves thorough answers.”

“Since the production of the documents has been delayed 5 months, I am requesting that they be produced in weekly batches as they are collected by the Attorney General’s staff.  This will allow us to begin our work more quickly. The people’s right to know should not be restricted by the chief law enforcement agent any longer.” Morgan concluded.

“School will be starting in just a few weeks.  In February the state budget office estimated that $23 million from the Google settlement remained unspent. The Attorney General has refused to reveal the exact amount.  I want that money to be used to make our schools more secure. Every child and teacher deserve to know they will go home safely at the end of every day.”

On 630WPRO this spring, the Governor called this money “a drop in the bucket’.  I believe just the opposite.  This sum divided among the 306 public schools would provide each with $75,000 to buy the security upgrades they determine to be most appropriate for each school. It is a significant investment in school security. We must not delay any longer.

“Today I will pay the Attorney General’s fee and start the process of finding where that money is.” The public has a right to know how the money was spent and the delay tactics must end.” Leader Morgan will be delivering the check in person today at 10:30AM at 150 South Main Street, Providence, RI 02903.

For more information, contact:
Gregory Zervos, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903