TN Governor claims ‘executive privilege,’ denies public records

Local In TN

FILE – In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talks to reporters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s administration has invoked executive privilege multiple times to withhold documents from public records requests, even though such privilege is not defined in the state’s law, nor mentioned in its constitution.

Officials in Lee’s office say they are using it interchangeably with a separate protection when documents are deemed part of the executive office’s decision-making process.

Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, says open government advocates worry that deliberative process exemptions will be used too broadly – thus making it difficult to know whether it’s being used improperly without involving the courts.

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