Open government groups criticize attorney general

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Open government groups are criticizing an opinion by the Rhode Island attorney general’s office that a state department could charge a fee for the time it took to write a letter denying a records request.

The Department of Public Safety denied a request for an employee’s personnel records in the state fire marshal’s office. The requestor’s attorney sought an opinion on this and other matters.

The office said Wednesday the department could by law charge $15 because composing the letter was part of the process of producing the requested documents.

The New England First Amendment Coalition called it “a new low” in enforcing the Access to Public Records Act and says the statute’s intent was misinterpreted.

The ACLU, Common Cause Rhode Island, ACCESS/RI and League of Women Voters also denounced it.

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