June 14, 2016 – Miami Herald
by Anthony Cormier, Sam Howard and Michael Laforgia, Tampa Bay Times
Government agencies are refusing to release basic public records about Omar Mateen and the deadly Orlando shootings.
In the days after Sunday’s nightclub attack, news gatherers across the country who requested documents about the shooter and the police response have been told many of those records — even those created years before the killings — are confidential, because they are part of an official investigation.
Pat Gleason, special counsel for open government in the Florida Attorney General’s Office, said the documents are public record.
“Can an agency withhold information simply because another agency asked them to?” she asked. “The answer to that is no.”
An attorney for those outlets sent a letter to the city on Tuesday, explaining that the records should not be exempt from disclosure.
…Agencies cannot retroactively exempt a document from disclosure. Even if the FBI seized records as part of an investigation, the law requires a copy to be kept and made available.
“The FBI doesn’t get to override Florida’s Constitution,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation. “That’s not the way this works.
“They are trying to control the stream of information.
“They are trying to control what people know.” [READ MORE]